Children's Books

  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    When I was in elementary school one of my favorite things to do over the winter holiday was to curl up with a good book. I loved the fact that I could wake up (whenever I wanted!) and read for an hour or two before I even got out of bed in the morning. That could be why I loved to get books for both Christmas and my birthday (which is also around the winter holidays). Here are some of my favorite books that have come out this year to give to readers who like to read juvenile fiction books: 

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Action/Adventure

     

    12.7 96 miles96 MILES
    By J. L. Esplin

    John and Stew are brothers who are left to fend for themselves in Nevada during a massive power-outage—meaning a power outage that lasts for days and covers most of the Western US. Even though their dad has a lot of emergency preparedness supplies, since he isn’t home many others come and take everything from the boys leaving the brothers with no choice but to cross the desert on foot in order to survive. 

     

    12.7 Darling DarleenDARING DARLEEN: QUEEN OF THE SCREEN
    By Anne Nesbet

    Darleen is a child actor who has grown up in the spotlight in the early days of silent black and white films. She is required by her uncles to perform her own stunts—most of which tend to be life-threatening. Life gets increasingly exciting when Darleen is accidently kidnaped along with an orphaned heiress. Darleen must use all her brainpower and stunt skills to save the day. 

     

    12.7 Dog DrivenDOG DRIVEN
    By Terry Lynn Johnson

    Even though she has deteriorating eyesight, McKenna decides that she wants to compete in a multi-day dog sled race over unfamiliar territory across parts of the US and Canada. McKenna’s younger sister also has the disease and McKenna doesn’t want their over-protective mom to take away her independence the way that she has for her younger sister Emma. However, racing is dangerous enough with good eyesight, and it becomes even more challenging when all McKenna can see are things in her periphery.  

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Books that Deal with Tough Topics 

     

    12.7 Black Brother Black BrotherBLACK BROTHER BLACK BROTHER
    By Jewell Parker Rhodes

    The tough topic in here is an African American boy having to deal with racism. Donte and his brother Trey don’t look alike. Their mother is African American and their father is of Scandinavian decent. This means that Trey has lighter skin and people tend to accept him. Donte has darker skin and tends to get in trouble for things he didn’t do. This is a hard look at how society often favors those with lighter skin tones. 

     

    12.7 Closer to NowhereCLOSER TO NOWHERE
    By Ellen Hopkins

    There is more than one tough topic in this book: foster care, past abuse, and PTSD. Cal comes to live with his cousin Hannah, 3 years after his mother passed away from cancer. At the start of the book it has been 14 months since Cal has moved in. He still doesn’t feel like he belongs and is scared that he will be sent away—or worse that he will have to go and live with his abusive father again once he gets out of jail. Hannah, on the other hand, finds it hard to have her cousin move in. He is everything she isn’t and Hannah gets frustrated that Cal’s jokes, pranks, and antics disrupt her life so much. This is a good look at what makes a family and how life gets crazy when so many emotions are thrown together in one place. 

     

    12.7 Fighting WordsFIGHTING WORDS
    By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    The tough topics in this book are, sexual assault and attempted suicide; however, it is done in a gentle way that is appropriate for middle grade readers. This book is not for every reader; but it is one powerhouse of a book and is definitely on the top-ten list of books I have read this year. Della has always had her older sister Suki to keep her safe. But when their mom’s boyfriend tries to put his hand down Della’s pants (and their mom is in prison) Suki rushes Della away. Now they are both in foster care and Della has to deal not only with all her emotions but also Suki she is hiding. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Fantasy

     

    12.7 The Land of RoarLAND OF ROAR
    By Jenny Mclachlan

    Arthur Trout has a twin sister named Rose that he has always looked up to. But lately Rose has been more interested in her friends and telling Arthur just how embarrassing he is than spending time with her twin. When their granddad goes missing into the make-believe-world that the twins created when they were much younger, Arthur goes to save him—even though Rose was the brave one and Arthur was not. Adventure, magic, and a part-scarecrow part-crow bad guy all await in the Land Of Roar, as Arthur comes to figure out who he is and if he can be brave all on his own. 

     

    12.7 Twilight HauntingsTWILIGHT HAUNTINGS
    By Angie Sage

    In a world where magic and enchanters are banned, Alex is the daughter of an enchanter who was smuggled out of the capitol to be raised as a foster daughter by a woman who doesn’t really like her. When they find out about her magical ability, she escapes and decides to go on a quest to make life better for herself and other children of enchanters. Enter Benn, the novice Flyer who rides the enormous Hawke that hunts down enchanters or their children. When Benn doesn’t kill Alex and decides to help her instead, he puts his livelihood in danger. This is a story full of twists and turns, magic and humor. 

     

    12.7 When You Trap a TigerWHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER
    By Tae Keller

    This is a magic realism book about Lily and her Korean grandmother, Halmoni. Halmoni is dying and Lily, her sister Sam, and her mom have moved to Halmoni’s town to help take care of her. Lily doesn’t have friends and Sam is extremely frustrated to be uprooted. Things get more complicated when Lily turns to a magical tiger based on Korean mythology and tries to catch the tiger to force the magical creature to heal her grandmother—which of course has its own magical consequences. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Funny Books

     

    12.7 My LIfe as a PotatoMY LIFE AS A POTATO
    By Arianne Costner

    Ben Hardy doesn’t like potatoes. His mom’s mashed potatoes are gross and once he broke his arm tripping over a bag of potatoes. When he gets in trouble at school, Ben must take on the role of the school’s mascot for the next four basketball games—only the mascot is a potato. Ben must figure out how to secretly be the school’s potato while trying to balance friends, family, and school. 

     

    12.7 Stand Up Yumi ChungSTAND UP YUMI CHUNG
    By Jessica Kim

    Yumi Chung has a secret dream of becoming a comedian. When she stumbles upon a comedy camp (that her parents would never sign her up for) and the camp members think she is someone else, she decides to go along with it so she can study the art of comedy. However, things soon spiral out of control when her identity is questioned by her friends and campmates and her activities are questioned by her parents. 

     

    12.7 WinkWINK 
    By Rob Harrell

    Ross has been diagnosed with cancer of the eye which makes him stand out in school and life when all he wants to be is an average middle schooler that only his friends notice. With crushes, friend drama, and a whole lot of gross goop that he has to apply to his eye, Ross does his best to get through life—there are even some comic panels throughout the book. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Graphic Novels

     

    12.7 Class ActCLASS ACT
    By Jerry Craft

    In this sequel to Newbery Award-Winning book NEW KID, Craft continues the story of the Riverdale Academy Day School kids—specifically of Jordan (the previous protagonist), Drew, and Liam. Jordan is still working on art and trying to fit in, but he is frustrated that, unlike his friends, he hasn’t hit puberty quite yet. Drew is trying to come to grips with the fact that he is an African American that doesn’t have a lot. Life is harder for him because of his background, including having a father who is never around because business is more important than family. 

     

    12.7 City of SecretsCITY OF SECRETS: SECRET OF THE SWITCHBOARD
    By Victoria Ying

    Ever Barnes lives in the Switchboard Operating Facility. There he (and his family before them) have been tasked with protecting a secret. Hannah’s father owns the Switchboard Operating Facility and when she sees Ever, she wants to become his friend. Only the two also encounter others who want to get close to Ever to either kill him or to get the secret he is protecting. There is a lot of action in this first in a projected series of a historical/steampunk type of city and these two kid adventurers. 

     

    12.7 Shirley and JamilaSHIRLEY AND JAMILA SAVE THEIR SUMMER
    By Gillian Goerz

    Jamila doesn’t want to have to go to camp for the summer. Shirley doesn’t want to either. When the pair meet at a random garage sale just before the camps were set to start, Shirley convinces Jamila’s mom to let the two spend time together over the summer instead. While the two hang out, Jamila realizes that there is more than meets the eye to Shirley—who is like a Sherlock Holmes that goes around and solves mysteries for the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. Once Jamila realizes what is happening, she decides that she wants to help solve a mystery too. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Historical

     

    12.7 Echo MountainECHO MOUNTAIN
    By Lauren Wolk

    When the Great Depression hits, Ellie’s family loses everything and moves to a mountain in Maine. There the family must learn how to live off the land—something that is especially hard for Ellie’s mother and older sister who loved life in the city. Things get worse when Ellie’s father gets hurt in an accident and it is up to Ellie to figure out how to put the pieces of her family back together. 

     

    12.7 Prairie LotusPRAIRIE LOTUS
    By Linda Sue Park

    Hanna is a “half-Chinese and half-white” girl who lives with her father in a town in the Dakota territory similar to where, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE is set. Hanna’s dream is to go to school and learn; however, the prejudices the town has for a girl who is “half-Chinese” means that most parents don’t want her in school with their children. 

     

    12.7 Village of ScoundrelsVILLAGE OF SCOUNDRELS
    By Margi Preus

    Villagers in Vichy—in the mountains of France—do secret acts on a daily basis. Their country has been taken over by the Nazis and uniformed men go around looking to round up Jews. But villagers in Vichy, hide Jews, sometimes right under the noses of the Nazi officers. This is a story, based on a real village that works together for good and common decency even though it could put their own lives at risk.   

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Realistic Fiction

     

    12.7 Dan UnmaskedDAN UNMASKED
    By Chris Negron

    Dan’s two favorite things in life are comics and baseball. His baseball team is going onto a championship tournament and his favorite comics keep coming out. Life is good. Until it isn’t and his best friend—and the star player of the team—is hit in the head by a baseball while at practice and is now in a coma. And Dan thinks it is his fault. Now Dan must figure out if there is a way to make his own comic to help his best friend come to and get his world back to normal. 

     

    12.7 Efren DividedEFRÉN DIVIDED
    By Ernesto Cisneros

    Efrén’s world is turned up-side-down when his mother is deported after an ICE raid. Now Efrén’s dad has two jobs to make ends meet and Efrén must help take care of his younger twin siblings, Max and Mia. This is no small feat, seeing how Max has a learning disability which sometimes makes life especially difficult. This is a story about family, immigration, and heart. 

     

    12.7 A Place at the TableA PLACE AT THE TABLE
    By Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

    This is a story about two girls and the beginning of their friendship. Sara is a Pakistani American girl and Elizabeth is a Jewish daughter of a homesick British mum and an American dad. When the two are paired together in an afterschool cooking class (that Sara’s mom teaches), they aren’t quite sure what to make of each other—but they do their best to make food and a friendship despite all their differences.

     
  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    I love giving books as gifts! Birthdays or holidays, books are one of the things I turn to when giving books to loved ones—especially kids. My thought is that if I give a book to a kid, I am showing them that I think that books, imagination, and reading are important and gift-worthy. Here are some of my favorite books that have come out this year to give to readers who love picture books (plus one easy reader). 

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Animals

    12.4 Dont Worry Little CrabDON’T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB  
    By Chris Haughton

    In this story, Little Crab is venturing away from his tiny rock pool by the sea for the first time. Little Crab is scared as Very Big Crab takes him in to the ocean, but with a lot of calm reassurance Little Crab finds that there is a wonderful world waiting for those who are brave enough to venture out to see it. 

     

    12.4 A Polar Bear in the SnowA POLAR BEAR IN THE SNOW
    By Mac Barnett
    Art by Shawn Harris

    This story follows a polar bear as he walks through the snow. What does the polar bear want to do? What will the polar bear do next? Kids who enjoy learning about animals in a story format will enjoy this cool read. 

     

    12.4 Turtle WalkTURTLE WALK
    By Matt Phelan

    This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite picture books of the year! The short text which begs readers to recite the text over and over again is great for kids who love a surprise ending. The clever storyline and humorous artwork will appeal to youngsters and the grownups who read to them. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Christmas

    12.4 CozyCOZY  
    By Jan Brett

    Alright, this one isn’t technically a Christmas book; however, it is full of snow and winter and needing to cozy up to keep warm. So, I’m throwing it on this list. This is the story of Cozy a musk ox who has such thick fur that all the other animals in Alaska come to seek shelter during a particularly bad snow storm. It is another sweet and wintery tale told by Jan Brett. 

     

    12.4 The Night Before ChristmasTHE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
    By Clement C. Moore
    Illustrated by Loren Long

    Moore’s text has been a family favorite and a holiday tradition in my home for decades. In this particular book Loren Long has created illustrations of four different homes that show the diversity of families who celebrate the holiday. Beautiful. 

     

    12.4 A Very Quacky ChristmasA VERY QUACKY CHRISTMAS
    By Frances Watts
    Illustrated by Ann James

    Samantha Duck decides that Christmas shouldn’t just be celebrated by people—animals can enjoy the season of giving as well. With friend Sebastian Tortoise they go around the farm and gather supplies to make gifts for all the various animals around the world. Totally sweet. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Humor

    12.4 Dont Wake the DragonDON’T WAKE THE DRAGON: AN INTERACTIVE BEDTIME STORY!
    By Bianca Schulze

    In this book a rascally dragon is sleeping—and the narrator wants to keep it that way. However, when pots clang, doors bang, and all kinds of noises abound readers must help to keep that dragon asleep by rocking the book back and forth, stroking the dragon’s scales, or doing other interactive things. 

     

    12.4 Little Fox and the Wild ImaginationLITTLE FOX AND THE WILD IMAGINATION
    By Jorma Taccone
    Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Little Fox has had a bad day at school so Papa Fox decides to help cheer him up by playing and being imaginative. Of course, things go awry when Little Fox takes control with his imagination and Papa Fox must try to keep up. 

     

    12.4 See the CatSEE THE CAT: THREE STORIES ABOUT A DOG
    By David LaRochelle

    This is the one easy reader book on my list. But it is hilarious! This is a book about a dog. Even though it says that the book is about a cat. Readers can watch as dog is flummoxed by the way that the narrator keeps referring to him as a cat (and then having weird and crazy things happen to him). Basically, this is one funny story after another (there are three chapters in the book) where readers will laugh and then immediately want to go and read the book again. This is another of my top ten books for the year. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Nature

    12.4 HikeHIKE  
    By Pete Oswald

    This is a nearly-wordless story of a father and his child as they wake up, prepare, and go on a hike to do something special. This book has gorgeous illustrations that showcase the father and child’s love of nature and family. Beautifully brilliant. 

     

    12.4 Im Trying to Love RocksI’M TRYING TO LOVE ROCKS
    By Bethany Barton

    The protagonist of this book tends to think that rocks are boring. Why should anyone want to write or read a whole book about an object that just sits there—or does it? Explore rocks, where they come from, and what their stories are in this humorous tale. 

     

    12.4 Seek and Find National ParksSEEK & FIND NATIONAL PARKS
    By Jorrien Peterson

    Line art illustrates nine different national parks around North America. On each spread, readers will learn about the various parks as well as getting to find different plants, animals, and land features that celebrate what makes the various parks unique and amazing. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Starred Reviewed Books

    12.4 LiftLIFT 
    By Minh Lê
    Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is the story of a young girl who is in charge of pushing the elevator button for her family—until her little brother usurps her button pushing power. As she tries to come to grips with a new normal she finds a discarded button from the elevator repair man and uses her imagination to relive all her button pushing dreams. 

     

    12.4 If You Come to Earth 1IF YOU COME TO EARTH
    By Sophie Blackall

    In this story, a young boy writes a letter to an alien to explain how things work on Earth. From talking about how we travel, what animals are here, or the diversity amongst all sorts of cultures the boy briefly explains it all—and then goes on to ask his own questions about aliens. 

     

    12.4 Your Place in the UniverseYOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
    By Jason Chin

    This is defiantly a thoughtful book. It starts by comparing the size of the book to an average 8-year-old. Then it goes on to examine how that compares to an ostrich, a giraffe, a tree, a skyscraper, and all things in the universe. Readers who love to learn facts and enjoy thinking about science will enjoy this book. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Things That Go

    12.4 Fire Truck vs. DragonFIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON
    By Chris Barton

    This is the sequel to Shark vs. Train. In this competition readers can cheer along with illustrated children who want to see the Fire Truck spray out the fire of a Dragon; however, they are *mostly* disappointed. Will Fire Truck actually spray water all over the place? Will Dragon blow flames across the pages? Will the illustrated children actually get to see it? Such fun. 

     

    12.4 The Old TruckTHE OLD TRUCK 
    By Jarrett Pumphrey

    An old truck has stopped working and just sits gathering dust (or being a place for imaginative play for the farm’s young daughter). Once the daughter is old enough, she starts working on restoring the old truck and bringing it back to life. 

     

    12.4 Two Dogs on a TrikeTWO DOGS ON A TRIKE
    By Gabi Snyder

    This is a silly counting book. One dog stands at a fence all alone, then two dogs decide to go for a ride on a trike. Various modes of transportation are all used as an additional dog joins the group—until readers find that the tenth dog may not be a dog at all and the countdown to get back home begins.

     
  • 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.

  •  Funny Television

    There are a lot of good reasons to read, and many of them are important reasons: it develops empathy, it encourages creativity, it makes you a more informed and thoughtful citizen, it reduces stress, it builds your critical thinking skills, etc. All of that is wonderful, but there's another, often ignored reason why reading a lot is great - it makes pop culture more fun.

    Once you start watching for them, you'll notice literary references all over the place, and one of my favorite feelings is watching a sitcom and catching a joke I would have missed if I hadn't read a particular book recently. These are just a few of my favorite bookish jokes from recent TV shows.

    NEW GIRL (Episode 1.21 "Kids")

    Referencing: BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA
    By Katherine Paterson
    (1977)

    Jess's day bonding with her boyfriend's daughter is ruined thanks to Nick.

     New Girl 2

     
     

    PARKS AND RECREATION (Episode 6.8 "Flouride")

    Referencing: MOBY DICK
    By Herman Melville
    (1851)

    Chris reads too much into Ron's woodworking lesson.

     
     

    BROOKLYN 99 (Episode 1.15 "Operation: Broken Feather")

    Referencing: OTHELLO
    By William Shakespeare
    (1622)

    Amy reveals that she's considering a job in another precint, and Jake feels betrayed.

    Brooklyn 99

     
     

    HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (Episode 7.3 “Ducky Tie”)

    Referencing: THE MILLENNIUM TRILOGY
    By Stieg Larsson
    (2008 - 2010)

    Ted: Oh, guess who I ran into. A girl from my past. Any guesses?

    Lily: Stella.

    Barney: Zoey

    Marshall: Karen?

    Lily: The girl who beat you up.

    Barney: The girl who ruined a photo with Slash!

    Marshall: The girl who made you get the butterfly tattoo?

    Ted: You make it sound like I've dated a series of Stieg Larsson novels.

     
     

    THE MINDY PROJECT (Episode 1.4 "Halloween)

    Referencing: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
    By John Le Carré
    (1974)

    Hoping to impress her new boyfriend, Mindy dresses in a series of punny Halloween costumes.

    Tinkerbell

    Tinkerbell Tailor Soldier Spy  
     
     

    Referencing: HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    By J.K. Rowling
    (1997)

    Dirty Harry Potter

    Dirty Harry Potter
      

    Referencing: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE
    By Laura Ingalls Wilder
    (1935)

    Lil Wayne on the Prairie

     Lil' Wayne on the Prairie 
     

    THE GOOD PLACE (Episode 1.3 "Tahani Al-Jamil")

    Referencing: The works of Plato and Aristotle

    Chidi spends weeks trying to teach Eleanor the history of philosophy, hoping that an understanding of ethics will help her keep her spot in The Good Place. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be sinking in.

    Plato

     

    GILMORE GIRLS (Episode 4.22 "Raincoats and Recipes")

    Referencing: THE LORD OF THE RINGS
    By J.R.R. Tolkien
    (1954)

    Lorelai’s not sure if her “will-they-won’t they” relationship with Luke has actually turned into something after he’s asked her to a movie and to his sister’s wedding.

    Bonus joke: In Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Rory has taken on running the Star's Hollow Gazette only to find the staff aren't especially efficient. When Ethel refuses to answer the phone because she's busy with paperwork, Rory replies: “I don’t want to say you’ve been filing that same piece of paper for a long time, but when you started, Nora Ephron felt good about her neck.”

     
     

    FRIENDS (Episode 3.13 "The One Where Monica and Richard are Just Friends")

    Referencing: LITTLE WOMEN
    By Louisa May Alcott
    (1868)

    Referencing: THE SHINING
    By Stephen King
    (1977)

    After Rachel finds Joey's copy of THE SHINING in the freezer (where he puts it when things get too scary), they agree to swap favorite books. She'll read THE SHINING if he'll read LITTLE WOMEN.

    Scary Little

     
     

    Things are going great until Joey accidentally reveals major spoilers.

    Friends

     
     
    Once again, things get a little too scary.

     

    UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT (Episode 1.11 "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"

    Referencing: THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
    By Michael Crichton
    (1969)

    "Reverend" Richard Wayne Gary Wayne unexpectedly wins over the jury while on trial for Kimmy's kidnapping.

    Good Book

     
     
  • Child in Mask 

    Wearing masks can be tough. Especially if you’re a little kid. They make such good slingshots and baskets!

    Does wearing a mask have to be so hard, though?

    The simple answer is no.

    Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be terrible or difficult. Masks can be fun!  Maybe your child could pretend to be a superhero or a ninja. Or maybe they could get one that reflects their interests. And with school around the corner, here are a few characters who may inspire your kids to rock their masks around their friends. 

    7.27 Princess in BlackTHE PRINCESS IN BLACK
    By Shannon Hale
    (2014) 

    Magnolia has a double life. In public she is known as Princess Magnolia. She is prim and proper in every way. When trouble strikes in the form of evil monsters, Princess Magnolia transforms into her alter ego The Princess in Black. Her disguise, complete with a mask and cape, helps her to defeat monsters while maintaining her anonymity. 

     

    7.27 Billy Stuart and the ZintrepidsBILLY STUART AND THE ZINTREPIDS
    By Alain M. Bergeron
    (2011) 

    Alright, so Billy doesn’t actually wear a mask. But he is a raccoon and raccoons are notorious for their fur markings that look like they are wearing a robber’s mask. So I’m going to count it. This story follows Billy and his scout troop on their nature hike where they get lost and travel through time. 

     

    7.27 The Man in the Iron MaskTHE MAN IN THE IRON MASK VOL 1
    By Roy Thomas
    (2009) 

    This graphic novel retells the story of the four musketeers and their plan to dethrone the King of France. They track down a man in an iron mask rumored to be the King’s twin brother. Is the stranger really the heir to the throne? And if so, will he help the musketeers? 

     

    7.27 Ninja rellaNINJA-RELLA
    By Joey Comeau
    (2015) 

    If you like the story of Cinderella but wished she was a more active character, then this is the graphic novel for you. In this adaptation, Ninja-rella thwarts the evil plans of her stepmother and saves the prince. She even becomes a ninja bodyguard. What could be a more action driven character than that? 

     

    7.27 The Black LotusTHE BLACK LOTUS
    By Kieran Fanning
    (2016) 

    Meet Ghost, Cormac, and Kate. Each kid has special powers that make them ideal recruits for the top secret Ninja school. Can they be trained in the art of stealth and survive the war against the samurai warriors?  

     
  •  Book giving 1

    So far we've shared some great reads that came out this year for adults (Fiction, More Fiction, Nonfiction), but we can't forget about the kids! Here are a few of the best new picture books for the little readers you love.

    For the kid (or kid at heart) in your life who:

     

    Is a master at bedtime avoidance-

    12.20 Dont BlinkDON’T BLINK
    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
    Illustrated by David Roberts

    Have you ever tried that trick of trying NOT to close your eyes as a way to feel sleepy? This clever picture book is built on that idea. Every time you blink, you have to turn the page, and soon enough, you (and any reading buddies) will be fast asleep. 

     
     

    Is working through big feelings-

    12.20 The Rabbit ListenedTHE RABBIT LISTENED
    By Cori Doerrfeld
    (2018)

    When tragedy strikes, Taylor’s friends have all kinds of suggestions on how to feel better – shouting, hiding, rebuilding – but Taylor doesn’t need suggestions. What he needs is company and a listening ear. With sweet illustrations, this picture book is a great primer on helping others (and ourselves) in hard moments. 

     
     

    Is secretly an artist (and doesn't even know it)-

    12.20 SquareSQUARE
    By Mac Barnett
    Illustrated by Jon Klassen
    (2018)

    Barnett and Klassen are a beloved picture book duo, and for good reason. Their spare pictures and text are deceptively simple and always hilarious. SQUARE will have you laughing out loud and wondering what it really means to be an artist. 

     
     

    Sometimes wonders how to make friends-

    12.20 Drawn TogetherDRAWN TOGETHER
    By Minh Lê
    Illustrated by Dan Santat
    (2018)

    A young American boy has a hard time relating to his Thai grandfather; they like different shows, eat different food, and can’t even speak the same language. When they discover their shared love for drawing, however, a whole new world of communication opens up to them. 

     
     

    Loves to chat (but not always listen)-

    12.20 Wordy BirdyWORDY BIRDY
    By Tammi Sauer 
    Illustrated by Dave Mottram 
    (2018)

    Wordy Birdy has lots to say, so much that she doesn’t let anyone else get a word in. When there’s a bear on the loose, that chattiness gets her in trouble. This picture book’s a great reminder that talking is great, as long as we listen too.  

     
     

    Doesn’t usually see their life in picture books-

    12.20 LoveLOVE
    By Matt de la Peña
    Illustrated by Loren Long
    (2018)

    You might expect a picture book called LOVE to be saccharine, but this new release is honest as well as touching. De la Peña and Long show that love has a million faces (some expected, others surprising) and that sometimes it’s pain that reveals them. 

     
  • 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.

  •  anne fashion

    One of literature’s most beloved heroines, Anne Shirley, can be an inspiration to all of us. Although she’s far from perfect, she can teach us a lot about wanting adventure, having a huge imagination, and loving with your whole heart.

    But wanting to emulate a character sometimes means we want to do more than act like her—we also want to dress like her. Or at the very least, dress in an aesthetic inspired by her stories. Since L.M. Montgomery’s classic tale is set in the late 1800s in Canada, it might be a bit difficult to cull inspiration directly from the books. Instead of wearing the classic 1880s fashion statement—the bustle—you can take inspiration from the style of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES that fits better with modern styles.

    Anne is both strong and romantic. While she loves to be in charge, and see the world, she is prone to loving the girlish and fanciful. Below are three outfits that I think encompass the romantic but adventurous spirit of Anne.

    Some starting points: Anne loves to go out and adventure, so she probably wouldn’t wear heels unless it was a special occasion, since we have so many other options that are better for having fun, but are just as cute. She loves to be girly, and she isn’t afraid to be a little (a lot) dramatic. She loves romance, especially flowers, so she’d probably wear florals even when it isn’t springtime. And never forget Anne’s classic wide-brimmed hat and braids—the girl loves accessories.

    Outfit 1Outfit #1:

    “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”

    Anne’s world always makes me excited for fall—the crunchy leaves, the cups of tea, the curling up with a good book—so I thought Anne herself might wear an outfit that lets her enjoy the crisp air and the promise of a little autumn magic. While the outfit is practical enough to wear out and about, Anne’s romantic side is preserved through the addition of a scarf and a brooch. The field notes are so that Anne can write down all of her wild imaginings.

     
     

    Outfit 2Outfit #2:

    “Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.”

    Anne is a classic daydreamer—she sometimes lets her imagination run away with her a little bit too much. She sees the romantic everywhere, and conjures up names to match the passion in her heart for all the things around her. An outfit like this will let you curl up with a good book—or a blank notebook—and imagine all the worlds you want to. The comfy sweater and socks allow you to relax, while the locket and embroidered collar infuse it with a little of Anne’s classic romanticism.

     
     

    outfit 3Outfit #3:

    “It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable.”

    The reason Anne wants her name to be spelled with an E and not just plain ANN is that she longs for the fancy and fashionable. Plain Ann isn’t romantic enough—Anne dreams of a world where she has the most beautiful clothes and wishes to surround herself with lovely things. This outfit will let you traipse off to a museum, school, or a bookstore, so you can meet minds with all the best people—while looking your very best. Although this outfit doesn’t have puffed sleeves, a pinafore dress paired with a quirky printed button-down is sort of the modern equivalent.

     

    When trying to dress like Anne, the most important thing to remember is that you can make your life as romantic as you choose—so throw on your fancy hat, wear your grandma’s brooch, and carry a book with you everywhere you go.  

     

  • Fanx 

    The Salt Lake Comic Convention FanX is coming to town September 5-7. As many of you are aware, comic conventions are the ultimate experience for anyone who loves interesting TV shows, cult classics, and the latest super hero wonder. Oh, and my personal favorite: books!

    Every year authors make their way to the Salt Palace to meet current and future readers. They set up booths, attend panels, and put together signings. As an avid reader, I enjoy being able to bring my own books, get them signed, and chat with authors I adore. I also always find time to wind up and down the aisles in search for my next great read.

    Since I’m sure not all of you can make it to FanX, I’ve decided to spotlight some of the authors attending for you. This way, you too can become a fan of the great authors at Salt Lake’s own convention.

    For a complete list, please visit the FanX Author page (https://fanxsaltlake.com/authors/)

    8.30 Ink and AshesINK AND ASHES
    By Valynne E. Maetani
    (2015)

    Debut novel for Utah author Valynne E. Maetani.This book follows the mystery of Claire Takata’s father, who passed away when she was a little girl. After discovering a letter from this deceased father to her step father at the age of 17, Claire begins to search for answers, which eventually lead to unsuspecting places, such as the Japanese mafia. In his Goodreads review for this novel,  author Brandon Sanderson said, “I can sincerely say this was one of the best books I’ve read this year… An artful blend of Japanese culture, solid mystery, interesting characters, and an excellent use of viewpoint.” Please step into the mystery of this young adult novel!

     

    8.30 Mustaches for MaddieMUSTACHES FOR MADDIE
    By Chad Morris
    (2017)

    Based on the true story of Chad Morris’s own daughter, Mustaches for Maddie follows the life of 12 year old Maddie as she tries to impress school-mate Cassie with her collection of fake mustaches. Sadly, Maddie is self-conscious of her right arm, as it is only comfortable pressed close to her chest. When Maddie and her parents discover that her arm’s discomfort is actually the result of a brain tumor, Maddie must find the courage to confront the operating room and also the kids at school.

     

    8.27 DefyDEFY
    By Sara B. Larson
    (2014)

    The first book in a Young Adult Fantasy series. Considered by many fans to be inspired by Mulan, the novel follows Alexa Hollen. Alex, after disguising her true gender and joining the king’s Army, successfully makes her way up the ranks until she is a member of the prince’s elite guard. But even with her unquestionable skill, Alex can’t prevent the abduction of herself, a fellow guard, and the prince in the dead of night. In her attempt to protect the kingdom, secrets are revealed and strength is tested.

     

    8.30 Promise of BloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    By Brian McCellan
    (2013)

    “The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it. It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...” Yes, I used the original two sentences of the blurb on the back because that is an epic way to introduce a fantasy novel. With this first book, Brian McCellan is slowly rising to a big name in the Epic Fantasy fandom. The story revolves around Field Marshal Tamas and the aftermath of his assassination of the king. With this, the book produces a revolution rife with political intrigue in a world that mixing gunpowder and marksmen with the magic of mages.

     
  • 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.

     

  • Back to School

    The first month back to school after summer is a doozy. Students are tired, anxious, and cranky, but are suddenly expected to perform at their top-notch academic game! How can we help our students have a smoother transition into each new school year? One piece of advice from seasoned teachers is to give students a chance to “escape” every day through reading a good book. Check out the books below that are perfect for an escape! 

    9.11 A Dragons Guide to the Care and Feeding of HumansA DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS
    By Laurence Yep
    (2015)

    Perfect for ages 8-12, this whimsical book takes the reader on a magical adventure with a cantankerous dragon, Miss Drake, and her ten year old human “pet,” Winnie. Miss Drake teaches Winnie about all the secret, magical things that happen right under people’s noses. 

     

    9.11 Mila 2.0MILA 2.0
    By Debra Driza
    (2013)

    An engaging, suspenseful thriller for teens, Mila 2.0 is the story of a girl who discovers that she is living a lie. She wasn’t supposed to learn the truth about who she is; now that she has, her life in is danger. 

     

    9.11 Over Sea Under StoneOVER SEA, UNDER STONE
    By Susan Cooper
    (1965)

    Great for ages 8 and up, this novel series withstands the test of time. This book is the first volume in Cooper’s famed “The Dark Is Rising” series that takes readers on a dangerous quest with three children who happen upon an ancient manuscript. They soon become locked in a battle between the forces of the Light and the forces of the Dark. 

     

    9.11 The Wild RobotTHE WILD ROBOT
    By Peter Brown
    (2016)

    This fantasy book for children/teens follows the story of Roz the Robot who wakes up one day, alone on an island, with no idea how she came to be there. Her only hope for survival is to learn to get along with the island’s animals. Readers will love cheering for Roz as she struggles to fit into a world where she doesn’t seem to belong.

     
  • Snow Mittens 

    There is something about winter that makes it seem perfectly pleasant to stay indoors cozied up with a favorite book. It helps, of course, that we live in a place with cold, snowy winters. But there is something undeniably nice about turning the pages of a book during the shorter days of winter. For me, it is a soothing and calming activity during a time of year that can often feel hectic, and not only during the holidays. 

    We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite wintry (but not Holiday-centric) picture books that beg to be enjoyed by families on a long winter night. 

    1.4 Before MorningBEFORE MORNING
    By Joyce Sidman
    Illustrated by Beth Krommes
    (2016) 

    This peaceful poem expresses a child’s wish for an overnight winter storm so mighty that it stops the world. I refuse to believe that this child and I are the only ones who have ever wished for a big blizzard that makes the busy world stop. This longing sensation, a decidedly wintry one, is perfectly expressed by Newbery medalist, Joyce Sidman and is perfectly matched by gorgeous scratchboard illustrations from Caldecott medalist Beth Krommes. This is a quiet, slow and mesmerizing book perfectly suited for a winter bedtime. 

     

    1.4 CozyCOZY
    By Jan Brett
    (2020) 

    Nearly any of Jan Brett’s books could be on this list, because her signature artistic style is so associated with winter reading (if you haven’t read her version of THE MITTEN you really ought to). But COZY, her newest book, is an especially sweet story of winter friendship. Cozy is a young musk ox in Alaska, named for his especially silky coat. When he is separated from his herd during a harsh winter, his coat protects him from the winter chill. Soon, a growing number of animals seek shelter in his coat which prompts Cozy to set some “house rules” so everyone will get along. If you know Jan Brett, you know to expect beautiful illustrations and incredibly detailed side panels that young readers will spend hours exploring, 

     

    1.4 Katy and the Big SnowKATY AND THE BIG SNOW
    By Virginia Lee Burton
    (1971) 

    Virginia Lee Burton is a classic children’s author and illustrator who wrote lots of stories of personified things, but KATY AND THE BIG SNOW holds a special place in my heart, and not just because it’s perfectly wintry. Katy is a tractor with a snow plow attached to her front who only gets brought out on very snowy days when the town needs her the most. She waits, and waits, and waits until a big snow storm arrives and then she happily goes to work clearing the streets so that people in the town can get where they need to go. Truck-obsessed children will love seeing Katy at work, and the vintage illustrations make such excellent use of white space that this book can be read over and over and still be charming – especially on a snowy day after seeing a snow plow at work! 

     

    1.4 Goodbye Autumn Hello WinterGOODBYE AUTUMN, HELLO WINTER
    By Kenard Pak
    (2017) 

    This is part of Kenard Pak’s series of books showing two children saying goodbye to one season and welcoming another. The entire series is beautiful, but this entry holds a special spot in my heart. We follow the two children on a long walk as we watch the season start to turnover. We see the tell-tale signs that autumn is ending – like piles of leaves and crisp early evenings all moving towards the inevitable snowfall. The text in this quiet and inviting book is sweet, but the illustrations and how they manage to really feel like the change in seasons are what will make this book a delight to read over and over again – especially as we prepare for a snowfall. 

     

    1.4 Snowflake BentleySNOWFLAKE BENTLEY
    By Jacqueline Briggs Martin
    Illustrated by Mary Azarian
    (1998) 

    There are a surprising number of Caldecott winners about winter, which made it a difficult choice to recommend just one. But in the end, I had to pick this nostalgic favorite – a picture book biography about Wilson Alwyn Bentley. Bentley, or Snowflake Bentley, was a self-taught scientist who studied the microscopic world of snowflakes by photographing thousands of flakes to study their form and prove that no snowflake is alike. The incredible illustrations in this book are done with woodblock and hand-tinting to evoke the snowy 19th century Vermont town where Bentley lived. This is a simple but beautiful book that could act as an invitation to explore snow science with children.

     
  • 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!

     
  • Holiday Road Trip

    Once upon a time, long, long ago you couldn’t watch movies in your car! I know this may come as a surprise to some, but it’s true. You were stuck for hours in the car with limited ways of spending your time. You could sleep, stare out the window, tease your younger siblings, sing, or listen to someone read a book and that’s about it.  I grew up taking these kinds of road trips and boredom always got the best of me. But one of my favorite ways of passing the hours in the car was listening to books. This is still my favorite way to pass the time when traveling long distances, so I always have a book to listen. This is one of the reasons I love LIBBY, or overdrive, because it gives me access to lots of audiobooks.

    The other day as I was browsing some of our holiday audiobooks, I came across some that I really love. These books aren’t necessarily about a Christmas story but they take place at Christmas time and to me they have a Christmas feeling about them. Here are my top 5 favorite unusual Christmas audiobooks. 

    12.23 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
    By C.S. Lewis
    (1950)

    This book of course isn’t one you would think of as a Christmas book but it does take place in a wintery wonderland of ice and snow and a boy named Edward is naughty and makes a bad choice. Does he get coal for Christmas? You will have to read the book to find out. But Father Christmas does visit and gives gifts to all of Edward’s siblings.  I love this particular audiobook because it has sounds, music, and I think the narration is very entertaining to listen to.

     

    12.23 WinterhouseWINTERHOUSE
    By Ben Guterson
    (2018)

    Winterhouse is a motel where Elizabeth spends her Christmas break. She is annoyed and really wants to stay home but she is sent away by her aunt and uncle. While at Winterhouse, she discovers dark family secrets and because of her love of puzzles, uncovers a mystery. A perfect audiobook for anyone who loves listening to a good mystery. 

     

    12.23 The Mysterious HowlingTHE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING
    By Maryrose Wood
    (2010)

    Miss Penelope has just graduated from Swanburne Academy for poor bright females. When she gets a job as a governess to three young children, she finds she has a lot to teach them. They don’t know anything about manners or how to behave in a civilized manner and this all must be taught and learned before the Christmas ball. 

     

    12.23 Harry Potter and the Sorcerers StoneHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
    By JK Rowling
    (1999)

    Harry Potter is an all time classic and even though it isn’t a Christmas story, Harry does spend his Christmas holiday at Hogwarts. It’s during the Christmas break that he discovers the secret of the Sorcerer’s stone with the help of his new friends. There couldn’t be a better way to spend your holidays then chasing a villain and solving a mystery as a first year Hogwarts student.

     

    12.23 The Greenglass HouseTHE GREENGLASS HOUSE
    By Kate Milford
    (2014)

    This book, like the others mentioned, takes place during the Christmas holidays. Young Milo lives in the Greenglass Inn and usually during the winter it’s pretty quiet but a few days before Christmas, 5 unusual guests show up. They won’t say when they will be leaving or what they are doing there. As items go missing and even more guests show up, the mystery begins to grow and Milo must find a way to save everyone.

     
  •  Woods

    As any intrepid hiker knows, there is one thing all adventurers need to keep an eye open for while exploring in nature – the creature known as Bigfoot. You may be thinking that in Utah we don’t need to worry about Bigfoot, after all, most reported Bigfoot sightings have occurred in Washington state and California. You may be thinking that there are bigger threats in nature than the largely unknown cryptid. You might even be thinking, “There’s no such thing as Bigfoot.” But for the true believers, there is no better time to learning about sasquatch than in your childhood. Here are some good reads to get you started, just in time for hiking and camping season.

    11.18 LemonsLEMONS
    By Melissa Savage
    (2017)

    After her mother dies, Lemonade Liberty Witt is sent to live with a grandfather she’s never met in Willow Creek, California – Bigfoot Capital of the World. She’s sure that she’ll be able to move back to San Francisco to live with her teacher Miss Cotton soon, and so Lem doesn’t bother to try to make friends in her new, weird town. Especially not with Tobin, her neighbor and the president and founder of Bigfoot Detectives Inc. Reluctantly, though, Lem agrees to help Tobin hunt for the elusive Bigfoot. This is a humorous and heartwarming read for Bigfoot believers and deniers.

     

    11.18 BigfootBIGFOOT
    By Erin Peabody
    (2017)

    Let’s dive into the big question – does Bigfoot exist? For young cryptozoologists, this book is the best place to start. This middle grade informational title explores the legend of Bigfoot from all angles – explaining famous sightings, big hoaxes, and the mythological roots of the creature. With an easy-to-read narrative, plenty of elementary school humor, and black and white illustrations, young Bigfoot hunters will eat this book alive.   

     

    11.18 Bigfoot goes on vacationBIGFOOT GOES ON VACATION: A SPECTACULAR SEEK AND FIND CHALLENGE FOR ALL AGES!
    By D.L. Miller
    (2018)

    If you stop and think about it, hunting for Bigfoot is sort of like LARPing a Seek and Find book. So what better way to get in the Bigfoot spirit than with a book full of seek-and-find challenges featuring our favorite monster on vacation all over the world? And, if you’re dying to be on vacation, this book also includes fun facts about vacation destinations to help transport you. Be sure to also check out BIGFOOT GOES BACK IN TIME

     

    11.18 Elwood BigfootELWOOD BIGFOOT: WANTED, BIRDIE FRIENDS!
    By Jill Esbaum
    (2015)

    Did you ever stop to wonder if maybe we got it all wrong? Maybe Bigfoot is out there – and maybe he also just wants to be your friend. Elwood Bigfoot is three things – he is very big, very loud, and very lonely. All he wants is to befriend the little birdies who come near is cave, but whenever he tries to ask them to “STAY!” they fly away frightened. Elwood tries everything before realizing that his BIG personality might be scaring the birds away. You’ve never seen a cuter Bigfoot than Elwood, or had a better way to get your littles hooked on Bigfoot.

     
  • 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!

     

     

  •  Bookish Halloween

    When you ask a book lover what their favorite season is, there’s a decent chance they’ll say fall. And what’s not to love? It’s the perfect temperature outside to curl up inside with a cozy blanket, a warm drink, and a good book. Anne Shirley herself even said “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”. And I can’t say I blame her. There really is something utterly romantic about autumn.  I also really love the spooky side of fall. Pumpkins and skeletons, and Halloween parties—but especially the costumes. For the last few years I’ve made it a goal to wear a bookish Halloween costume. Costumes inspired by books are not in short supply, and they’re such a fun conversation starter. I’m going to share with you some of my favorite bookish Halloween costumes for recreating with things you either already have, or can find really easily. 

    COOKIE MOUSE

     cookie mouse

    The mouse from IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE is an easy one. Any pair of overalls will do, whether they’re long pants, shorts, or a skirt. Layer a t-shirt underneath and you’ve already got the outfit. To complete your look with a pair of ears you have a few choices. An old pair of Disney mouse ears will work, or putting your hair in high double buns, or even making your own out of a headband, cardboard, and tape. Draw whiskers near your nose and you officially resemble a mouse. As a bonus, you get to carry a cookie around all night. No one will know if you keep a box of cookies in your bag and just replace the one in your hand every time you eat it.  

     

    ARTHUR DENT

    arthur dent

    If comfort is your aim, shoot for dressing as Arthur Dent from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Wear a pair of pajama pants, a white t-shirt, slippers, and a bathrobe out of the house and it should be pretty clear who you’re trying to be, especially if you keep a towel on hand and repeat “Don’t panic” to everyone you meet. And who knows? You might just end up on an adventure of your own.    

     

    MADELINE

    Madeline

    Madeline may be tiny, but she’s mighty—and her costume packs a punch. Anybody who read MADELINE as a kid will instantly know who you are, and luckily, it’s a pretty simple costume too. Start with a simple blue dress. A white collar made from white felt and ribbon isn’t too hard to make, but you can also wear a blouse underneath your dress to the same effect. Add a pair of white knee socks or tights, and black flats. To round out the look, wear a straw hat and a pair of white gloves. You can up the ante on this costume by finding eleven other people to dress up as her school mates, and another person who wouldn’t mind dressing up as Miss Clavel.   

     
  •  Girl Smelling Flowers

    I’ve never met a Hannah that I didn’t like. Maybe I’m biased, but I think all Hannahs are pretty swell people. It doesn’t hurt that the name is beautiful. It’s just a fact that the name Hannah is one of the best names out there. Don’t believe me?

    Well, then here is a list of a few wonderful Hannahs with a reason why they are great: 

    8.25 Hannahs NightHANNAH’S NIGHT
    By Komako Sakai
    (2013) 

    When Hannah wakes up in the middle of the night, her sister and parents are still fast asleep. Hannah and her cat decide to entertain themselves. They explore the house without anyone to tell them no. This book’s beautiful and unique illustrations compliment the elementary language while honoring the author/illustrator’s Japanese culture. 

    Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a toddler that doesn’t wake her parents up in the middle of the night and is potty trained. Can you say miracle? 

     

    8.25 Hannah SparklesHANNAH SPARKLES: HOORAY FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
    By Robin Mellom
    (2019) 

    It’s the first day of first grade, and Hannah is ready. She has her sparkly pens, her butterfly net, and her best friend, Sunny. But what happens when Hannah is forced to sit across the room from Sunny? Will she be able to make new friends? Or will it be too hard? 

    Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a great listener and has a butterfly net.

    A BUTTERFLY NET.  

     

    8.25 Hanah DuckHANNAH DUCK
    By Anji Yamamura
    (2008)

    Hannah Duck is pretty happy and relaxed. Except on Sundays. On Sundays, Hannah goes for a walk. This doesn’t sound so bad, except for one thing: Walks terrify Hannah. Luckily, she has good friends to help her overcome her anxiety. 

    Why this Hannah is awesome: She tells her friends about her feelings.  

     

    8.25 Hannah and SugarHANNAH AND SUGAR
    By Kate Berube
    (2016) 

    Hannah sees her friend’s dog, Sugar, after school every day. This sounds pretty great, until you find out one problem: Hannah is afraid of dogs. Then one day Sugar goes missing. Will Hannah help find Sugar? 

    Why this Hannah is awesome: She faces her fears.  

     

    8.25 Hannahs Tall OrderHANNAH’S TALL ORDER: AN A TO Z SANDWHICH
    By Linda Vander Heyden
    (2018) 

    This book, told in rhyme, follows Hannah and her lunch order. She asks for enough things on her sandwich to cover the alphabet. Her request is enough to make McDougal, the chef, sweat. This is a great read for those who want a little laugh while learning the alphabet.  

    Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a ginger, is a master rhymer, AND. SHE. CAN. EAT. 

     

    Who are some of your favorite Hannahs in literature?

     
  • Springtime Tree Blossoms

    I don’t know about you, but for the six weeks or so, I’ve been craving comfort foods and comfort reads. Instead of trying new, adventurous, nutritious recipes, I’ve been digging out old recipe cards and calling family members to see if they remember that one thing Grandma made when we were kids. Similarly, I haven’t had the mental space to crack open dark, angsty, or overly technical reads that I might normally be up for. There’s enough to worry about in the real world, so instead my reading time, especially at the end of the day, is focused on charming classics that I’ve loved for years.  

    As I’m guessing is the case for many of you, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES is the first book of that sort that comes to mind for me. So if you love Anne and you’d like something similar, this post and the follow-up next Friday are for you! Next week I’ll share well-known books you really ought to read if you haven’t already, but this week is a deeper dive into lesser-known Anne Shirley-esque reads. Some of the author names will likely be familiar, but these particular books fly under the radar when compared with the popularity of the Green Gables series. Nevertheless, they all feature smart, lovable heroines finding their way through girlhood and teenage life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Just like the treats I’ve been making from old family recipes, these books are sweet, familiar, and mood-lifting, just what we need in the middle of a global pandemic.

    5.1 An Old Fashioned GirlAN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL
    By Louisa May Alcott
    (1869)

    This is my go-to read when I need a pick-me-up. LITTLE WOMEN might officially be my favorite book, but I think I read An Old-Fashioned Girl more often, especially since it’s short enough to finish in an evening or two. This sweet story of a country girl visiting her glamorous city friends might be a little heavy-handed in its moralizing, but isn’t that part of its charm? Best of all, its main character, Polly, combines some of the best characteristics of the four March sisters. She’s kind and hardworking and tries hard to be good, but she has enough weaknesses and quirks to make her lovable. And then there’s Tom, a mischievous, good-hearted, boyish boy who’s sure to win your heart.

     

    5.1 Daddy Long LegsDADDY LONG LEGS
    By Jean Webster
    (1912)

    Though I didn’t grow up reading this book, the Hale Center Theater’s delightful two-person musical production last year left me charmed and deeply contented in a way only my favorite childhood reads can. I read the book a short while later and discovered that my favorite aspects of the play – Jerusha’s personality and the clever dialogue – came directly from the book. But just ignore the existence of the Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron movie musical from the fifties – there’s no horrifyingly large age gap to worry about here.At the beginning of the story, Jerusha Abbot, the oldest orphan in the John Greer Home, has few prospects in life. Fortunately, an anonymous benefactor, whom Jerusha dubs “Daddy Long Legs,” decides to fund her further education. Jerusha heads off to a women’s college, where she writes Daddy Long Legs regular letters about her experiences. Witty, observant, and romantic, Jerusha’s a character loveable enough to rival Anne Shirley. And if you like Daddy Long Legs, be sure to read DEAR ENEMY too, just be prepared for a few casually positive references to eugenics that are jarring to read today.

     

    5.1 The Blue CastleTHE BLUE CASTLE
    By L.M. Montgomery
    (1926)

    Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote several other books and series beyond Anne of Green Gables, and this is my favorite of them. In The Blue Castle, Valancy Stirling has grown up in a rigidly strict home with domineering and often cruel family members. She’s always been quiet and submissive, willing to go along with her family’s claim that she’s unattractive and destined for mediocrity. When she receives a letter making her feel like time’s running out, Valancy throws caution to the wind and goes after exactly what – and who – she wants in her life. 

     

    5.1 Heaven to BetsyHEAVEN TO BETSY
    By Maud Hart Lovelace
    (1945)

    Even if you don’t recognize the title of the Betsy-Tacy series, you’ve heard of it before if you’ve ever watched you’ve got mail. Based on the author’s girlhood, this series follows Betsy Ray and her best friend Tacy from the age of five all the way through early adulthood. Feel free to read them all in order, but know that the early books are aimed at younger readers. If you’re wanting the Anne of Green Gables vibe, I’d recommend starting with Heaven to Betsy, which takes place during Betsy’s freshman year of high school in the early 1900s. Betsy and her friends feel so much like a person you could actually know, and it’s especially fun to see how much of what we still associate with middle class American teenage life started more than a century ago.

     

    5.1 A Girl of the LimberlostA GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST
    By Gene Stratton-Porter
    (1909)

    Part of the joy of L.M. Montgomery’s books is her vivid descriptions of the beautiful, natural world, and that’s one of the most appealing aspects of The Girl of the Limberlost too. Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist as well as a novelist, which becomes abundantly clear in this book and its companion novels, FRECKLES and LADDIE. Protagonist Elnora Comstock has grown up poor and neglected by her widowed mother, who was emotionally destroyed when her husband died the day Elnora was born. Elnora begins high school uncomfortable and awkward, but through her own good nature, friendliness, and hard work selling the insect and plant specimens she collects from the Limberlost Swamp, she finds a place for herself in her community and in her family.

     

    5.1 MandyMANDY
    By Julie Andrews Edwards
    (1971)

    Yes, this is by THAT Julie Andrews. In addition to two memoirs, Andrews has written several books for children, and Mandy is a particular delight. Mandy is a ten-year-old girl who feels lost in the world until she discovers a deserted cottage in the woods near the English orphanage where she lives. Throughout most of the year, she sneaks away to the cottage, gradually beautifying it and making it her own. Though this book is more recently written than the others on the list and isn’t set in a specified time period, it’s lush descriptions of nature, sweet storyline, and winning heroine make it a natural fit for any Anne Shirley fan.

     
  • Blippi

    Parenting confession: my kids watch YouTube videos. A lot of YouTube videos. Some days, probably too many. If you are a parent that has succeeded in keeping toy unboxing videos, random family vlogs, and disembodied hands playing with children’s toys out of our life, I sincerely applaud you. 

    If you, like me, have resorted to some time with semi-creepy animated characters singing nursery rhymes (I’m looking at you, dead-eyed Little Baby Bum kids!) in order to make dinner or clean or just have a moment to yourself, this post is for you. 

    As I started writing this post, I realized that either I have too much to say about books or my kids watch way too many things (surprise! It’s both!). I’m going to split my responses into multiple installments. Today, we tackle Blippi. 

    When my oldest turned five, his interest in Blippi waned and I thought maybe we were rid of that bespectacled monster. Sadly, my two-year-old has taken up the mantle and is a die-hard fan. 

    My oldest loved Blippi for his tours of various vehicles, especially the construction equipment. If you have a child that loves construction equipment, I direct you to this list of construction books for toddlers. However, my younger son loves Blippi for his goofiness. He loves the antics: the voices, the slapstick, all of it. And so that’s probably why he loves the following books: 

    7.10 Listen to My TrumpetLISTEN TO MY TRUMPET
    By Mo Willems
    (2012)

    I could really have listed any of the Elephant and Piggie books. They are all a hit with my boys. This one is a favorite, though, because of all the hilarious sounds the reader needs to make as Piggie with a trumpet. 

    Mo Willems does so many great things with these books. The varied typography is genius, because even non-readers can see the shape, size, and color of the text and interpret the tone. My kids can always tell when a character is yelling, when they are sad, when they are excited. Add to that fact that Piggie is almost constantly in motion. She’s jumping, she’s cartwheeling, she’s flying around because someone else is yelling, she’s racing to get the next thing. Piggie is a kinetic character, and matches Blippi’s sometimes frenetic energy.

    We’ve done enough repeat readings of these books that the two-year-old will narrate them to himself. So sometimes, when he asks for Blippi, we give him Piggie; usually, he doesn’t mind. 

     

    7.10 No DavidNO, DAVID!
    By David Shannon
    (1998)

    Similarly, I could list most David Shannon books here, but my toddler’s favorite is No, David. Again, there’s a goofiness here. David gives some (naughty) examples of ways to play. I’d like to think seeing David’s various “problem” behaviors lets my children live vicariously through him so they don’t have to do it themselves (they can enjoy David’s splashy bath without needing to have their own), but I think I’m delusional. I just also know that my boys think this book is hilarious. My five-year-old actually loves to voice the mother, and I worry that it’s an impression of me, and then I question all of my life choices. It’s fine. 

    Blippi fans might also very much enjoy DUCK ON A BIKE and DUCK ON A TRACTOR, because it’s a combination of vehicular travel, animal noises, and one plucky duck. 

     

    7.10 Curious George Flies a KiteCURIOUS GEORGE FLIES A KITE
    By Margret & H.A. Rey
    (1958)

    My final recommendation shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but I think one of the appeals of Blippi for young kids is the way he explores lots of different places. He goes to aquariums and zoos, he goes to parks, he goes to play places. Sometimes he just goes to a grocery store or a car wash. Blippi does his best to make even ordinary places into spaces for exploration and play (did he have to do it in that voice, though?). 

    My favorite character for finding play in ordinary spaces is Curious George. I’m not even a snob about him; even though I love Margret and H.A. Rey’s original books, I also very much enjoy the PBS kids show and the numerous books to come out of it. I love George as a character, and I think he offers that creative exploration that kids are looking for when they turn to Blippi.

     
  • disney

    When I was growing up, my family was always a “Disneyland family.” You know, some families take trips to Disney theme parks and some don’t – mine was always in the first category. In fact, some of my fondest family memories are from trips to Disney parks. Even as an adult, I have something of a reputation for being a Disney person – that may be because I have an Annual Pass to Disney World (yes, in Florida) even though it is 2,321 miles away from the Provo City Library. 

    I like to think that all of these trips over the years were training me for the day that a patron would walk into the Library and ask “we’re planning a trip to Disneyland. Do you have any books to help get our kids excited?” The answer, of course, was yes. Here are my five favorite recommendations, from the unofficial Disney Expert at the PCL, to anyone who has the same question. 

    1.28 Pocket Full of ColorsPOCKET FULL OF COLORS: THE MAGICAL WORLD OF MARY BLAIR, DISNEY ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE
    By Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
    Illustrated by Brigette Barrager
    (2017)

    This book is actually one of my favorite recent books, even for non-Disney fans. It is all about Mary Blair, the most famous Disney animator you’ve never heard of. In the 1950s she worked as a concept animator for films like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Cinderella before leaving to work in advertising. She was then brought back by Walt Disney himself to design It’s a Small World. This  book is filled with lots of Disney goodness and will make even the most reluctant willing to board “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.” 

     

    1.28 Secrets of DisneylandSECRETS OF DISNEYLAND: WEIRD AND WONDERFUL FACTS ABOUT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH
    By Dinah Williams
    (2013)

    When I was a kid visiting Disney, the best part was bugging my parents and older siblings with secret, hidden, little-known facts and tidbits I had collected (I was a youngest child who would grow up to be a librarian, what can I say?). This book is filled with all kinds of behind-the-scenes information that kids will be excited to share. If you’re headed to Florida instead of Anaheim there is also a Disney World version – SECRETS OF WALT DISNEY WORLD: WEIRD AND WONDERFUL FACTS ABOUT THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH

     

    1.28 Walts ImaginationWALT’S IMAGINATION: THE LIFE OF WALT DISNEY
    By Doreen Rappaport
    (2018)

    If you’re trying to get excited for a Disney trip, there is no better place to start than with the man himself. This new picture book biography explores the life of Walt Disney for young readers with beautiful illustrations featuring Walt, Mickey Mouse, and other familiar faces.   

     

    1.28 PiratesPIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
    By Xavier Atencio
    (2017)

    Let’s be honest, no Disney trip preparation is complete without a little Disney music. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of my favorite rides at Disneyland and this picture book captures the magic of the ride with original illustrations to accompany everyone’s favorite pirate song. 

     

    1.28 Keymasters QuestTHE KEYMASTER’S QUEST
    By Jason Lethcoe
    (2017)

    For older readers looking to get in on some pre (or post) Disneyland action, this adventurous series of Middle Grade novels is a good place to start. Set in the worlds of Disney’s Adventureland (The Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise, etc.) this book follows Andy Stanley as he ventures deep into the jungle to keep magical artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. It’s an adventurous story made better by some good puzzles and Disney magic.

     
  • doctor visits

    If you have a child that doesn’t like the doctor, then you’re not alone. There are a lot of children who are scared to visit the doctor’s office. It can be frightening: strange metal objects, foreign smells, and weird noises are enough to give anyone reason to pause. Here are five books to help your child know what to expect from their next doctor visit. 

    2.3 Froggy Goes to the DoctorFROGGY GOES TO THE DOCTOR
    By Jonathan London
    (2002)

    Froggy has to go to the doctor and doesn’t know what to expect. Will he get a shot? What if he forgets something? Will he get a lollipop? This fun read will entertain Froggy fans everywhere and might convince some kids that doctors aren’t that scary. 

     

    2.3 Katie Goes to the DoctorKATIE GOES TO THE DOCTOR
    By Liesbet Slegers
    (2011)

    Katie is sick and has to go to the doctor. Katie’s mom and her doctor explain what’s happening and what will make her feel better. The simple illustrations and phrasing make this book a great choice for preparing for a doctor’s visit.   

     

    2.3 Splat the Cat Goes to the DoctorSPLAT THE CAT GOES TO THE DOCTOR
    By Cathy Hapka
    (2014)

    Splat the Cat is scheduled to go to the doctor. At first he’s excited, but then his friends start telling him all the scary things that could happen. Fortunately, his mom and doctor help him see that visiting the doctor doesn’t have to be scary! If your child is a worrier, then they can relate to Splat the Cat. 

     

    2.3 Dentist TripDENTIST TRIP
    By Neville Astley
    (2016)

    It’s important to take care of our teeth as well as our bodies. That’s why Peppa and George visit the dentist. Peppa makes sure George is ready to meet the dentist, but George is still a little nervous. Luckily, Dr. Elephant knows what to do to help George feel better. 

     

    2.3 Dr. Potts My Pets Have SpotsDR. POTTS, MY PETS HAVE SPOTS
    By Rod Hull
    (2017)

    Animals can get sick too and it’s important to take them to the vet. Good thing Dr. Potts can cure animals with any sickness! Does your cat have purple stripes? Maybe your parakeet has yellow spots? Never fear, Dr. Potts can help. This book is unique because it not only teaches about visiting the vet, but it teaches colors and patterns. 

     
  • LEGO

    Around our house Legos bring about feelings of awesomeness. Not everyone is obsessed with Legos and collecting them, but my son aspires to be a Lego designer in the future. There are large numbers of Legos around and long amounts of time spent constructing. I didn’t play with Legos enough when I was young.  We didn’t have access to them or maybe I didn’t have access to my brother’s and I didn’t have any of my own. I feel as though I am making up for it now, because I love having Legos around and letting everyone in the family have access to them. I am not amazing at creating structures from pure imagination, like my son, but I do find a lot of satisfaction from sorting and following a pattern or instructions. 

    Sometimes, after amassing a large amount of Legos in your house, there may be times where you need a spark of creativity to extend Lego play or to entice those who play with Legos less often to start playing with them more or in a different way. The cool thing about Legos is they are open-ended and there isn’t a right or wrong way to play with them. Anyone can be successful to their own degree or desire. Lego books are out there for everyone from the young to grown-up and for every level of interest to extend Lego play. The newest builder up through the professional level can be inspired by books. Some have specific patterns that are easy to follow and fool-proof. There are other idea books without any patterns that just spark creativity to use the bricks. Here are a few fun books the library has:

    7.1 Amazing Brick MosaicsAMAZING BRICK MOSAICS
    By Amanda Brack
    (2018)

    This guide contains instructions to create beautiful 2-D mosaics. The plan for each creation is divided up in four quadrants with a picture of each specific brick needed to complete the design. The designs are intricate, but the instructions help simplify the process. It is a great place to start getting into mosaics. After my son checked this out, he was able to create his own from imagination.  

     

    7.1 Amazing ABCAMAZING ABCS
    By Sean Kenney
    (2012)

    Lego books are created even for the youngest of readers. This board book has bricks made into each letter of the alphabet, perfect for introducing the excitement of Lego to the next generation of builders.  

     

    7.1 LEGO Play BookLEGO PLAY BOOK: IDEAS TO BRING YOUR BRICKS TO LIFE
    By Daniel Lipkowitz
    (2013)

    Lego bricks are easy to collect and although there are endless possibilities, sometimes looking through someone else’s ideas can really spark creativity. This idea book has several different chapters, each with an idea subject created by Lego fans.  

     

    7.1 LEGO Architecture Idea BookTHE LEGO ARCHITECTURE IDEA BOOK: 1001 IDEAS FOR BRICKWORK, SIDING, WINDOWS, COLUMNS, ROOFING, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
    By Alice Finch
    (2018)

    This idea book is for serious Lego fans, especially those interested in architecture details to add to their structures. Finch relates it to how a thesaurus would be useful for writers, this guide with detailed ideas can help to augment structures for Lego builders with the ideas she has compiled over years of working with Legos professionally. 

     

    7.1 Beautiful LEGOBEAUTIFUL LEGO
    By Mike Doyle
    (2013)

    Just as the title describes, Doyle has gathered together a large collection of incredible Lego structures, over 267 pages of mostly photographs. The bricks are themselves a medium artists use to create structures. More than just Lego fans can appreciate the talent that goes into the works of arts contained inside.

     
  • 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.

     

     

     

  • disney 1

    “We believe happy people make the world a better place.” - Disney’s Imagineering motto.

    When the world is right and we are happy, things are much better, but sometimes, when life gives us lemons, we have to find a way to sweeten things up.  

    This past May I had to cancel a trip to Disney World. I was a very disappointed Disney fan. I was feeling sad and a little sour about missing this trip so I started reading books about Disney World. If you also missed a fun summer vacation this year, don’t be sad and tart, here is a sweet solution. Just pick the place you would like to go and visit the library. Life could use a little sugar right now, so check out a book, enjoy some down time, and make some lemonade. 

    9.9 Secrets of Walt Disney WorldSECRETS OF WALT DISNEY WORLD: WEIRD WONDERFUL FACTS ABOUT THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH
    By Dinah Williams
    (2013)

    Find out the secrets of Disney World in this book to make your next visit to Disney World even more special. It will direct you to hidden Mickeys, the longest and fastest rides, and the magic behind the scenes at Walt Disney World.  

     

    9.9 MousejunkiesMOUSEJUNKIES: TIPS, TALES, AND TRICKS FOR A DISNEY WORLD FIX: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A PERFECT VACATION
    By Bill Burke
    (2015) 

    A guidebook with a collection of humorous travelogues and insider how-to secrets compiled from a panel of Disney fanatics.

     

    9.9 Disneys LandDISNEY’S LAND: WALT DISNEY AND THE INVENTION OF THE AMUSEMENT PARK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
    By Richard Snow
    (2019) 

    A history chronicling the conception and creation of Disneyland. The masterpiece California theme park, that became at once the greatest piece of urban design in the United States and the world’s most prosperous tourist attraction, as told like never before by popular historian Richard Snow. 

     

    9.9 Walt Disney WorldWALT DISNEY WORLD
    By Marne Ventura
    (2019)

    In 1965, Walt Disney World Resort opened in Orlando, Florida. Explore the life of Walt Disney and the history of this iconic resort.  

     

    9.9 Birbaums Walt Disney WorldBIRNBAUM’S WALT DISNEY WORLD FOR KIDS 2020: THE OFFICAL GUIDE
    By Wendy Lefkon
    (2019)

    Real kids give honest advice for your next vacation to Disney World. A guide to Walt Disney World with colorful maps, photos, and more. Get advice from young Disney experts.

     
  • Reading Together Mother and Daughter 

    When I was learning to read, I was taught that books are written to be read from left to right. I bet that you were taught the same thing. Did you know though that sometimes books don’t follow that rule? It’s true! Some books are meant to be read backwards and forwards, bottom to top, or right to left. 

    Books that you can read backwards and forwards have always made me smile. Here are a few fun books that don’t follow the rule to read left to right: 

    7.13 Little Bro Big SisLITTLE BRO, BIG SIS
    By Rocio Bonilla
    (2019)

    Big sister thinks that her little brother is the worst: he’s so annoying and will not leave her alone. Little brother thinks that his big sister is the worst: she is always bossing him around and telling him what to do. It is so fun to see how each part of this sibling relationship views the other half, and the appreciation they come to have for one another, in this book you have to read from both left to right and right to left to fully understand. 

     

    7.13 The HugTHE HUG
    By Eoin McLaughlin
    Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
    (2019)

    Reading this book from left to right you discover the story of hedgehog too spiky to receive a much-wanted hug. Reading this book from right to left you will find the story of the tortoise too bony to be hugged. Both problems are solved when the two stories meet in the middle and hedgehog and tortoise find one another. This book is full of the most darling illustrations and is not one you will want to miss out on. 

     

    7.13 A Long Way AwayA LONG WAY AWAY
    By Frank Viva
    (2013)

    Start from the top of this story and join in on an adventurous journey from outer space to the deep ocean. Or start from the bottom of the story and climb from the depths of the sea to far away planets. The top to bottom reversibility of this book makes it one that is just too fun to pass by. 

     

    7.13 Mamas Wild ChildMAMA’S WILD CHILD, PAPA’S WILD CHILD
    By Dianna Huts Aston
    Illustrated by Nora Hilb
    (2006)

    Reading this book forwards will tell you about some of the mamas in the animal world and how they love their babies. Reading this book backwards will tell you about some of the papas in the animal world and how they love their little ones. Reading this book in either direction provides you with a sweet look at how parents both human or animal love their children and would do anything for them. 

     

    7.13 What Aunts Do BestWHAT AUNTS DO BEST: WHAT UNCLES DO BEST
    By Laura Numeroff
    Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
    (2004)

    Aunts are good for all sorts of fun things, like going shopping, watching the late night show or buying you cotton candy. Uncles are good for fun things like going on the roller coaster, building forts and telling silly jokes. Read this book from either end to discover all the great things that aunts and uncles are best at.  Also, be sure to check out the other reversible books in this series about the things that other relatives are good at.

     
  • brain elementary 

    Welcome to the fourth child brain development blog! This time we will cover elementary school-age children, or those 6-10 years of age. If you are looking for information on younger children, be sure to check out earlier posts in the series on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers ( ). At this point in the game, it seems like brain development isn’t emphasized as much. Just send them to school for writing, math, science, and history and that’s it – right? But your little one’s brain is still growing. Even now our three favorite activities are important: reading, singing, and talking! While they might look a little different than they did at younger ages, they are still just as key to brain development at this stage.

    Be sure that your child is reading every day, particularly something that interests them. Textbooks are great, but so are fun stories that inspire the imagination. If you are at a loss for what books are age-appropriate, visit the Children’s Reference Desk in the library. There are booklists for different grades, as well as topical guides and read-alikes. Maybe your child loves dragons or science fiction, or maybe your 2nd grader is reading at a 4th grade level. We’ve got you covered.

    You may find that your child isn’t interested in typical chapter books, but rather prefers comics or graphic novels. These are still great for your child’s development, and may help them find an interest in reading outside of school. Below are some popular choices among elementary school-age children. 

    2.24 The StonekeeperAMULET: THE STONEKEEPER
    By Kazu Kibuishi
    (2008)

    In this series, Em and Navin find themselves living in a mysterious house that leads them on magical adventures to save their mom and, later, fight for justice among a society they had previously never known. 

     

    2.24 Big Nate In a Class by HimselfBIG NATE: IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF
    By Lincoln Peirce
    (2010)

    Nate is a mischievous middle-schooler, finding himself in detention quite often for his antics. Each of the comics in this series is humorous and fun, while also showing the consequences of acting out in school, making them great for growing kids. 

     

    2.24 Dog ManDOG MAN
    By Dav Pilkey
    (2016)

    Dog Man is a superhero who is half dog, half-policeman. His enemy, Petey the cat, provides him with plenty of crimes to fight. 

     

    2.24 SmileSMILE
    By Raina Telgemeier
    (2010)

    Raina tells the story of how her dental problems affect her growing up. She addresses her appearance and self-esteem, making this a very relatable comic for kids in school. 

    Singing is a fun activity that can transition into other artistic outlets as well, to encourage creativity. While we encourage literacy at the library (and it is extremely important), there are other areas of the brain that need stimulation, and creativity is a huge part of that. Drawing, painting, music, and other artistic activities can help your child make neural connections to improve their memory, social skills, cognitive abilities, and much more. We have great activities in the library, such as Make-and-Take crafts and Kids with Cameras, where your child can be exposed to different artistic techniques to try out.

    Talking is very important at this age as well, not just with parents, but also with peers. Socializing with other children helps your child to understand and empathize with others and gain a better theory of mind. While previously your child was more egocentric as they worked on understanding their place in the world, they are now trying to understand their place in the world in relation to others. We never quite stop learning about either of these, but this is a key point in your child’s development. Coming to events in the library, like those mentioned above, provides the opportunity for your child to socialize with other children. We often place them at tables together and encourage them to help one another, so it’s a great experience outside of the typical school setting they may be used to.

    If you are interested in learning more about how your child’s brain develops and strategies to help them along, check out the following book. 

    2.24 The Whole Brain ChildTHE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD
    By Daniel Siegel
    (2011)

    This book offers much more than I can say on the topic of child brain development and how to guide them in their growth. 

     
  • Baby Genius 

    Are you looking for resources to supplement your child’s learning? In the coming weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts on child brain development and how the library can help.Today, we will be talking about infants, which are children up to 18 months of age.

    At every stage, the first recommendation (after love) is to read, sing, and talk to your child, which means that the library is a great place to start. For more exposure to reading, singing, and talking, bring your little one to story time! We have story time at a variety of times during the week where our storytellers read, sing, and talk to your children. For children under one year, we offer Book Babies on Mondays and Fridays at 10:00 am, while one- and two-year-olds can attend Toddler Time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10:05 and 11:05. 

    Beyond storytime, the library offers a number of resources to help your children learn and flourish. In particular, we have books and discovery kits that can help develop your baby's eyesight, tactile senses, and ability to identify and name objects.

    Eyesight

    Not having had the chance to hone his or her senses in the womb, your baby is in need of natural stimulation to help him or her progress, particularly for visual and tactile senses. Contrasting and bright colors help babies to focus on and distinguish between different visual stimuli. While you can (and should) read any and all books with your child, here are a few that might help specifically with their developing eyesight:

    5.7 My AnimalsMY ANIMALS
    By Xavier Deneux
    (2015)

    This board book has pictures of animals in black and white with pops of color to train your child’s eyes. Each animal is labelled (which is another great aspect for visual attention, as discussed below), and each page has holes so that your growing child can learn to turn the pages themselves. 

     

    5.7 Birds of a ColorBIRDS OF A COLOR
    By  élo
    (2018)

    Focusing more on color contrasts than just black and white, this board book has interactive elements to teach colors by placing them behind black and white patterns. 

     

    5.7 Patterns Jr. Discovery KitPATTERNS JR. DISCOVERY KIT

    Our Junior Discovery Kits come with books, toys, and suggested activities for a particular topic.The Patterns Jr. kit is filled with contrast perfect for aiding your little one’s visual development. 

     

    IDENTIFICATION AND NAMING

    A study done by Lisa Scott at the University of Florida showed that labels – like in MY ANIMALS – and names in books have a positive impact on infants' visual attention as they age. You can create the names yourself as you read, or read books like those below with recognizable characters. As you read, point to pictures and say the name of the character or object, even if it isn’t explicitly stated. 

     

    5.7 The Cat in the HatTHE CAT IN THE HAT
    bY Dr. Seuss
    (1957)

    This classic by Dr. Seuss has names for many of its characters that you can repeat again and again. 

     

    5.7 Berenstain Bears THE BERENSTAIN BEARS: WE LOVE THE LIBRARY
    By Mike Berenstain
    (2017)

    The Berenstain Bears books have repeating characters that you can point out in book after book. We like this one because we also love the library. 

     

    TACTILE RECOGNITION

    As their tactile senses develop, around 3-6 months, books with texture can be a great tool to introduce your baby to different sensations. We don’t typically keep these in the library, as they tend to get dirty or damaged very quickly travelling between children’s hands. One place where the library does offer them is in a few of our Junior Discovery Kits. 

     

    5.7 Night Night FarmFARM JR. DISCOVERY KIT

    Not only does this Junior Discovery Kit have textured materials, but farm animals, which can be used to teach names and sounds. 

     

    5.7 Numbers Jr. Discovery KitNUMBERS JR. DISCOVERY KIT

    The Numbers kit is great for reading, singing, and playing; along with textured materials for tactile senses. 

     

    5.7 Safari Jr. Discovery KitSAFARI JR. DISCOVERY KIT

    If your baby liked the Farm kit, they’ll love the Safari kit. It has more animals and textured materials! To wrap up, here is another book that discusses child brain development that might have some useful tips. You can check it out directly or get it in any of our Junior Discovery Kits. 

     

    FOR PARENTS

    5.7 The Whole Brain ChildTHE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD
    By Daniel Siegel
    (2011)

    This book offers much more than I can say on the topic of child brain development and how to guide them in their growth. Be sure to follow the blog to learn about more library resources to aid brain development in older children!

     
  • Toddler Brain Development

    Welcome to part 2 of our child brain development series. Today we will be talking about toddlers, or children from 18 months up to 3 years of age. As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, on infants, it is important to read, sing, and talk to your child every day, no matter how old they are. Now that they are talking more and more, however, it is essential to encourage your child’s new skills.Here are a few activities you and your child should take advantage of within the library:

    STORY TIME 

    We recommended Story Time for infants, but now that your child is moving and talking more, they will get even more out of this activity. We have Book Babies and Toddler Time in the story circle, which are specifically geared toward this age group. Your child will not only get the chance to hear from our fantastic storytellers, but practice imitating their movements and sounds – key for development at this time.

    PRESCHOOL PLAY

    Although preschool typically starts around 3 years of age, the toys in the story circle during Preschool Play can be fun for your toddler as well. We also have several toys for young children next to the story room. Play is vital to child brain development, so letting them explore and learn both on their own and with your guidance is beneficial at this age.

    JUNIOR DISCOVERY KITS

    Explore a topic with your child using books, toys, and activities by checking out one of our junior discovery kits. In particular for toddlers, we recommend: colors, numbers, and shapes. These kits include toys that challenge their learning and level of play with stacking and matching.

    Now to what you typically think of when bringing your child to the library: books.

    You may have noticed your child loves to point at things and ask what it is or name it themselves. You can encourage this curiosity and connectivity through books with interactive and follow-along elements, like those below. Also, while reading together be sure to ask them questions, such as “Where is the dinosaur?” or, while pointing at the dinosaur, “What is that?” 

    5.28 WigglesWIGGLES
    By Claire Zucchelli-Romer
    (2018)

    This fun book gives instructions to your child on using different fingers to make patterns. It is a beautiful little book packed with activity! 

     

    5.28 Around the WorldAROUND THE WORLD: A FOLLOW THE TRAIL BOOK
    By Craig Shuttlewood
    (2015)

    Your child can follow this book around the world – with their finger! Not only do they learn as they go, and see pretty pictures, but they become more engaged with the book by utilizing this tactile attachment. 

     

    5.28 Baby DinosaursBABY DINOSAURS
    By Dawn Sirett
    (2018)

    Similar to Around the World: A Follow the Trail Book, this book teaches your child about dinosaurs while having them tag along on the paper trail. I am no expert on this subject, so I will continue to refer to the following book for any questions you may have about how to help your child’s brain develop, both in the library and at home. You can check this out directly, or find it in one of our junior discovery kits mentioned above. 

     

    5.28 The Whole Brain ChildTHE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD
    By Daniel Siegel
    (2011)

    This book goes into much more depth about child brain development and ways you can help your child in their growth. For more recommendations about how the library can help with the brain development of your growing child, stay tuned for more in this series on the blog. 

     
  • 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!

     
  • Reading in Sun

    With summer in full swing and temperatures rising, the best way to beat the heat is to curl up in your air conditioned room with a good book. These five books are stories about children in summer who go on adventures and face all kinds of mythical and very real problems. Check out any of the following books to stop sweating the heat and be sucked into a summerland tale. 

    8.5 The Remarkable Journey of Coyote SunriseTHE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE
    By Dan Gemeinhart
    (2019)            

    Coyote is a twelve-year-old girl who has been living on the road with her father, Rodeo, for the past five years. They travel all around the U.S. in motorhome converted from an old school bus. They drive for adventure, but also to escape the home where her mom and two sisters were lost in a car crash. But when a park is planned to be demolished in their hometown, the park that holds a buried memory box their whole family hid, they must make the trip back to rescue it. Their fun, care-free lifestyle embodies the feel of a summer vacation and makes the book a captivating read. 

     

    8.5 The Last Last Day of SummerTHE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER
    By Lamar Giles
    (2019)            

    With the last day of summer bringing that feeling of dread, Otto and Shead, cousins who can’t help their desire to spy and uncover the secrets in their little town in Virginia, mistakenly stop time. While frozen in the last day of summer, they meet strange people and creatures and roll off into the adventure of a lifetime. But having a perpetual summer day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If they don’t unfreeze time, time could stop for good. 

     

    8.5 Where the Watermelons GrowWHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW
    By Cindy Baldwin
    (2018)            

    Della discovers her mother picking black seeds out of a watermelon one summer’s night and can tell something isn’t quite right. Her mother has struggled with mental illness in the past to the point of hospitalization. With her father’s farm in trouble, Della sees that she needs to be the one to help her mama heal before her home falls apart. What does she use as medicine? Her neighbor’s magic honey. It may just heal the heartache in her life. 

     

    8.5 Counting to PerfectCOUNTING TO PERFECT
    By Suzanne LaFleur
    (2018)            

    All of Cassie’s problems seem to be because of her sister, Julia, who is the favorite daughter and receives all the attention now that she has a daughter of her own. It seems no one cares about her competitive swim meets and collapsing group of friends. So when Julia tells Cassie that she’s going on a road trip with her daughter and isn’t telling their parents of her plans, Cassie forgoes her summer plans and hops in the car with her sister for a road trip that will change her perspective completely. 

     

    8.5 SummerlostSUMMERLOST
    By Ally Condie
    (2016)            

    After the devastating death of her father and brother, Cedar’s family packs up to spend the summer in Iron Creek. While settling into their house, Cedar sees a boy dressed randomly in a costume riding his bike through town. When she follows him, she finds herself at the town’s Summerlost theatre festival. She gets a job in concessions, makes new friends, and discovers the mystery that shrouds the festival and follows her. 

     
  •  Choose Your Own Adventure

    Before there were video games there were Choose Your Own Adventure books.

    I remember the thrill I got as a kid coming to the end of a chapter and having to decide, do I go down the shadowy path (turn to page 25), or knock on the heavy oak door (turn to page 56). There was something delightfully delicious about being able to choose how the story would turn out.

    I am happy to say that even with modern computer adventure games Choose Your Own Adventure books are still popular. Now readers have a variety of adventure options in both the fiction and informational sections. 

    Choose Your Own Adventure

    11.19 Abominable SnowmanTHE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN
    By R. A Montgomery
    (2005)

    This is the classic series that you may have read as a child.  Still kind of silly, but guaranteed to be fun.The library has over 30 different titles in this series, including some featuring popular super heroes. 

     

    Choose Your Own Adventure JR.

    11.19 CaravanCARAVAN
    By R.A. Montgomery
    (1987)

    This is a version of the original series for a younger (2nd-3rd grade) reader.  It is even more silly, and has fun cartoonish illustrations. 

     

    Interactive History Adventure

    11.19 Ancient ChinaANCIENT CHINA
    By Terry Collins
    (2012)

    Do you have a kid who loves the I Survived series?  This is an informational series that has interactive adventures based on real historic events.  The library has more than 50 titles in this series, but they are scattered throughout the informational section.  The best way to find them is to type “interactive history adventure” in the search box in the online catalog. 

     

    Midnight Arcade

    11.19 Crypt QuestCRYPT QUEST/SPACE BATTLES
    By Gabriel Soria
    (2018)

    When some kids get trapped in a haunted 80's era video arcade, the Midnight Arcade, they must play their way out of danger, ultimately controlling whether they live . . . or die!  This is a new series in the Choose Your Own format.  The second in the series comes out in September. 

     
  • Christmas Read Alouds

    It's almost Christmas break and kids will be spending more time with their families. This is a great time to snuggle around the fireplace and read a novel aloud together. Or maybe you are going on a road trip and want a Christmas themed book to listen to in the car.  Here are some of my favorite feel good family Christmas novels.   

    12.11 The VanderbeeksTHE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET
    By Karina Yan Glaser
    (2017)

    The Vanderbeeker family includes two parents, four kids and three pets.  They have lived in the same brownstone in Harlem as long as any of the kids can remember.  One day, right before Christmas, their landlord and upstairs neighbor decides he is not going to renew their lease. The kids are horrified at the thought of having to move, so they start a campaign to convince reclusive old Mr. Biederman that he really does not want to make them leave. The antics of the kids are funny and each child has an individual and endearing personality.  It has great parent/child relationships, and all the protagonists are trying to do what is right 

     

    12.11 A Season of GiftsA SEASON OF GIFTS
    By Richard Peck
    (2009)

    Grandma Dowdel, the star of the Newbery winner, A Year Down Yonder, returns in this heart warming Christmas book.  It is 1958 and a new preacher and his family has moved into town.  When their son, Bob, is attacked by bullies and tied, naked to Grandma Dowdel’s privy, Grandma Dowdel decides to take the family into her care using her own brand of unconventional love. 

     

    12.11 A Boy Called ChristmasA BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS
    By Matt Haig
    (2016)

    Nicholas lives with his father, Joel, who is a woodcutter in Finland. They are poor, but Nicolas is relatively happy and enjoys spending time in the forest with his dad. When Joel goes away with some strange men and doesn’t return, Nicholas goes on a grand quest to find him. This is an origin story about how Nicolas becomes Father Christmas. The story is definitely told from a British point of view. Nicolas becomes Father Christmas, not the more American Santa Claus, but even American readers will enjoy the many references to Christmas traditions. 

     

    12.11 The Best Christmas Pageant EverTHE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER
    By Barbara Robinson
    (1988)

    The Herdman’s are the worst family in town.  They are dirty, uneducated, and wild.  When they find out that the Sunday School offers snacks, they volunteer to be in the church’s Christmas pageant. As the crazy kids take over the production, the long-suffering director and her family marvel to see how they are transformed by the Christmas story.  This one is an older book that is becoming a classic worthy of being re-read to each new generation.

     
  • Coding 

    Every Tuesday from 4:00pm-5:00pm, kids ages 9-12 fill the story room in the children’s department for Coding +. After taking the Coding + Basics class on the first Tuesday of the month, they are free to come to other classes that teach them coding skills using Bitsbox, Harry Potter, Codecademy, and more. Not only do they learn a thing or two about coding, but they have fun and make new friends. For those outside of the age range, or looking to learn more about coding at home, below are a few books and websites to get them ready for their future as a programmer. 

    Books

    3.15 Computer CodingCOMPUTER CODING
    By Jon Woodcock
    (2014)

    This workbook provides detailed instructions to take your child from a novice to a programmer using Python. The tasks can be done alone or with a parent to help them along. 

     

    3.15 Get CodingGET CODING!: LEARN HTML, CSS, AND JAVASCRIPT AND BUILD A WEBSITE, APP, AND GAME
    By Duncan Beedie
    (2016)

    If your child is interested in building websites and applications, this is a great book to check out. It teaches the basics of HTML, which provides the basic layout of the site; CSS, which adds style and flair; and Javascript, which makes the site interactive. 

     

    3.15 Python for KidsPYTHON FOR KIDS
    By Jason R. Briggs
    (2012)

    A Python textbook made fun, this book takes kids through the basics and into the nitty gritty of programming in Python. With sections dedicated to particular topics and fun programming tasks along the way, this is a great in-depth introduction to programming for kids and adults alike. 

     

    3.15 Star Wars Coding ProjectsSTAR WARS CODING PROJECTS: WITH SCRATCH
    By Jon Woodcock
    (2017)

    Using the website Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/), your child’s favorite Star Wars characters show them how to make games and animations that teach coding principles along the way. 

     

    Websites

    • Code.org uses games and recognizable characters to teach kids coding basics at their learning level.

    • Codecademy has a step by step approach to real coding that is good for kids and adults.

    • Codemoji teaches web development in a kid-friendly way.

    • Scratch is a creative outlet for kids that utilizes block coding.  
     
  • construction books

     

    I am the parent of a toddler. Right now, he’s pretty well obsessed with three things: dogs (Paw Patrol specifically, though he likes dogs generally), cats, and construction vehicles. Lucky for us, it’s not hard to find books to satisfy all these obsessions, especially since our children’s department has a “Things that Go” hot topic section.

    Before I get to my list of favorite books from the “Things that Go” section, let me gush a little about Hot Topics. Before I became a parent, it seemed like a good idea to reorganize a large number of our picture books by topic rather than by author. Now that I’m a parent, I realize it's genius. Kids tend to go through phases of intense interest, and it’s SO NICE to be able to go to one place to find all the construction vehicle picture books instead of having to hunt them down in the stacks with a toddler in tow. We’ve found books we probably never would have checked out and they’ve become some of our favorites. I can reliably walk out with a stack of 10-15 books and know my son will be interested in all of them. With topics like ABCs, Colors, Princesses, Super Heroes, Potty Training, and more, the Hot Topics section is one of my favorite library parenting hacks. 

    That said, here are some of our favorite books we’ve found during our many visits to the “Things that Go” section that are sure to please your construction-loving toddler.

    9.7.17 ConstructionCONSTRUCTION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
    (2014)

    Construction is a book about—you guessed it—construction! This great read-aloud has illustrations that I find interesting, great rhymes and rhythm, and sound effects that you get to decide how to pronounce! These are Calvin’s favorite part, though he’s at an age where he’s asking what every unfamiliar word means and I don’t really know what to say when he asks me what “Thwock” means. 

    9.7.17 DemolitionDEMOLITION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
    (2012)

    This is the second book in the Sutton/Lovelock construction trilogy (the first is actually ROADWORK, which is great but not quite as much of a favorite), and the things I said about CONSTRUCTION pretty much apply here too. One thing I appreciate about these books is that I feel like I learn things too. Did you know that old concrete gets crushed up and recycled into new concrete? Also, these two books are the only two books my son has actively protested returning to the library.

    9.7.17 Dig Dogs DigDIG, DOGS, DIG: A CONSTRUCTION TAIL
    by James Horvath
    (2013)

    This one follows a sort of “day in the life” of a dog at a construction site (where dogs are fully capable workers and not just tag-a-longs). It’s another good read-aloud, and it’s got dogs and constructions vehicles and a DINOSAUR BONE, so it’s right up Calvin’s alley.

     

    9.7.17 Mighty MightyMIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE
    by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    (2017)

    I’ve already written about GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE (which we still read often), so I thought I’d share the sequel, MIGHTY MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE. Every bit as charming as its predecessor, this volume introduces some new friends to help build a building! I loved the emphasis on partnership, I love the introduction of the new trucks, and I love the way the two books complement and frame one another. 

    9.7.17 Construction KittiesCONSTRUCTION KITTIES
    by Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern
    (2013)

    I’m going to be honest: this one was not my favorite, but Calvin LOVED it. This reminds me a lot of DIG, DOGS, DIG!, from the “day in the life” aspect to the actual thing they’re building (spoiler alert: it’s a park. In at least half of the kids’ books about construction, they build parks).  But there are cats, and there are construction vehicles, and sometimes that’s all you need. He'll sometimes end the book by asking, "Can we be construction kitties?" which, of course, we can. If you need me, I'll be meowing and driving a backhoe loader. 

     

  •  Mother daughter cooking

    I have always loved Thanksgiving. Every year, I view it as welcome break to spend time with family, express gratitude for the blessings and privileges I enjoy, and eat yummy foods that for some reason we only make once a year (if anyone wants to normalize making cranberry sauce and stuffing year-round I will support that crusade). But, like everything good, Thanksgiving will probably look pretty different this year. Here’s hoping that we are all still able to express gratitude for all that we do have, and eat some delicious food with our families. 

    As you prepare for Thanksgiving, here are some of the best kid-lit chefs to get you in the mood to cook up a delicious feast of your own. Be warned – better not to read while hungry!

    11.23 Measuring UpMEASURING UP
    By Lily LaMotte
    (2020)

    Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle with her parents and is still trying to adjust to her new school and country. More than anything, she misses her grandmother back in Taiwan. When she sees an advertisement for a kids’ cooking contest with a cash prize, Cici cooks up a plan to win the prize money and bring A-ma to Seattle for her 70th birthday. It seems easy enough, until she meets her assigned competition partner – the intimidating Miranda who works in her family’s fancy restaurant and insists that they won’t win the competition by making Taiwanese food. This new middle-grade graphic novel focuses on Cici while she figures out where she fits in.  

     

    11.23 From the desk of Zoe WashingtonFROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON
    By Janae Marks
    (2020)

    The summer before seventh grade, 12-year-old aspiring pastry chef Zoe Washington, plans to spend her free-time preparing to audition for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge by interning at a local bakery. But when she receives a letter from her father who’s been imprisoned for murder since before Zoe was born, she secretly begins a correspondence with him. As Zoe gets to know her father better, she learns about inequality in the criminal justice system and strives to get her dad’s verdict appealed – all while perfecting a recipe for a signature cupcake. This book balances discussion of social justice, family connections, and mouthwatering descriptions of treats.  

     

    11.23 Pie in the SkyPIE IN THE SKY
    By Remy Lai
    (2020)

    Jingwen has just moved to a new country -- but it feels like he’s landed on a new planet. School is torture, making friends is impossible because he doesn’t speak English, and he keeps getting stuck babysitting his very annoying little brother Yanghao. To distract himself, Jingwen plans to make fancy cakes like his dad used to make before he died. The only problem is, his mom won’t let the brothers use the oven while she’s at work, so Jingwen and Yanghao bake cakes in secret – carefully eating all the evidence before she returns home. This middle grade novel with spot-illustrations is a hilarious and heartwarming immigrant story filled with some tasty looking cakes. 

     

    11.23 Jasmine Toguchi mochi queenJASMINE TOGUCHI, MOCHI QUEEN
    By Debbi Michiko Florence
    (2017)

    Jasmine Toguchi’s family is gathering to celebrate the new year and make mochi, sweet rice cakes from Japan. Though Jasmine is considered too young to help with the mochi-making like her older sister Sophie, she is eager to help out. Jasmine becomes determined to involve herself in the mochi-making process, despite being too young and a girl, and commits herself to proving to her family that she is strong enough to help the men pound out mochi – even lifting weights with her cousins. This intermediate chapter book is all about food, family, and togetherness – with instructions for attempting your own mochi to boot. 

     

    11.23 Bilal Cooks DaalBILAL COOKS DAAL
    By Aisha Saeed
    (2019)

    Bilal and his dad are making his favorite dish for dinner – chana daal – and Bilal invites his friends Morgan and Elias to help. Though the boys are excited to help prepare the classic South Asian dish, they begin to express a little uncertainty that it smells and looks funny. Bilal becomes worried that his friends won’t like his favorite food and spends the day worried as the boys play and wait for the daal to cook. When the meal is finally ready and the friends sit down to dine – the daal’s a hit! This foodie picture book is perfect for young food obsessed readers interested in exploring new cuisine and includes a daal recipe to try making your own at home.

     
  • Discovery Kit FB

    If you didn’t know already – play is a really important part of developing good readers and thinkers. “Pretend play” is especially important to help kids develop their imaginations, reasoning skills, social skills, and pre-reading skills. What better way to foster play than with a Discovery Kit chock full of ideas to inspire little ones? Whether you have a pirate, fairy, or monster-lover we have a kit for you. 

    Many of our patrons have already discovered Discovery Kits (one of the best kept secrets of the Children’s Department) and know just how fun they can be. For our patrons who don’t know what a Discovery Kit is, now is a great time to get acquainted. Discovery Kits are a selection of themed books, toys, and activity ideas appropriate for kids ages 3-5, and each one is filled with enough fun to fill days and days. The Discovery Kits check out as a set and you can keep them for three weeks. That means you have three weeks to play with all the toys, read all the books, and do all the things suggested in the included activity binder. When your three weeks are up, just bring the kit back to the Children’s Reference Desk and you can make a reservation for another one. The best part is that you can now make a reservation for a Discovery Kit online on the library website

    I recently wrote a blog post about finding fun things to do with my niece who loves Frozen. The process of finding things she might like were similar to the steps the children’s librarians go through when creating new Discovery Kits – but on a much smaller scale. Believe me, we put a lot of thought into helping our little patrons grow and develop into the best people they can be, and Discovery Kits are just one (of many) ways we try to foster that. 

    Check out provolibrary.com/discoverykits to see which adventure to take your kids on next.