•  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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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

    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. 


    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    by M.T. Anderson

    jumanji  JUMANJI
    by Chris Van Allsburg  

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

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

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



  • princesses and animals 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading, Princesses and Animals (picture books).

    by Leah Wilcox; illustrated by Lydia Monks

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

    by Eric Litwin; illustrated by James Dean

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

    by Julia Durango; illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

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

    by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Scott Menchin

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

    by Adam Stower

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

    by Jonathan Emmett; illustrated by Poly Bernatene

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

  • 6 degrees header 01

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

    bunnies bunnies bunnies 01

    by Alex Latimer

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

    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

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

    by Kevin Henkes

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

    by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

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

    by Jane Chapman, illustrated by Tim Warnes

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

    by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

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

  • BB 2016 FB

    The Night GardnerTHE NIGHT GARDENER
    by Terry and Eric Fan

    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! 


    by Nathan Hale

    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

    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. 


    By Steve Jenkins

    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

    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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. 


    by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

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


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

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

  • book friends 01

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


    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.




    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.



    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!



    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?


    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?


    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.



    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.



    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.



    Charmed Gardener

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



  • childrens book displays 01

  • Fairy Tea By the Numbers 01

  • odyssey committee 01

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

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

  • newbery 01



    cooking with kiddos

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

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

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

    rainbow stewRAINBOW STEW
    by Cathryn Falwell

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

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

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

    stone soupSTONE SOUP
    by Marcia Brown

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


    fandango stewFANDANGO STEW
    by David Davis, illustrated by Ben Galbraith

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


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

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

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

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


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

  • Bedtime Story

    Bedtime can be a challenge. There are baths to take, teeth to brush, and pajamas to get on. Add to that the fact that kids are often bouncing off the walls because they are too wound up or are too tired to understand that they should want to sleep. I totally get it! I have had my fair share of times I couldn’t get a small kiddo to go to sleep. So here are my five favorite books to help with those bedtime blues.

    3.22 Dont BlinkDON’T BLINK 
    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal

    The idea behind this book is that every time you blink, you have to turn a page. But if you don’t blink, you won’t get to the end of the book—and thus you won’t have to go to bed! This is a hilarious bedtime book that just dares kids to not blink and to try to stay awake. As the adult reader, I have to watch to see when the child blinks (and thus to turn the page). And if the kid stares for a while, we just sit on that page for a bit. It is totally a good way to try to get kiddos to close their eyes and keep them shut until morning—or at least to get them to try!


    3.22 Hooray for TodayHOORAY FOR TODAY 
    By Brian Won

    This is a great picture book. Owl wakes up and is excited to play—only it is nighttime and all his friends are sleeping (or trying to sleep). This is a good book to read to help little ones realize that sleep is important for all sorts of animals (and people) and they shouldn’t keep others awake. This is also a good book to start a discussion about day or night.


    3.22 How do Dinosaurs Go to SleepHOW DO DINOSAURS GO TO SLEEP?
    By Jane Yolen
    Illustrated by Mark Teague

    Jane Yolen is a master at helping kids understand the right and wrong ways to act at certain times—such as bedtime. By showing dinosaurs doing the wrong (and then the right) ways to go to bed, kids can learn how good little dinosaurs (and children) should approach bedtime. And if a youngster loves dinosaurs, then bonus! Teague shows a plethora of dinosaurs and has names for the little aspiring paleontologists.


    3.22 Hush a Thai LullabyHUSH! A THAI LULLABY 
    By Minfong Ho
    Illustrated by Holly Meade

    This is one of my all-time favorite bedtime books. It is a classic! This book was first published in 1996, and it is still one of the best! In this story a mother keeps telling all sorts of animals to be quiet since baby is sleeping—only she doesn’t see that baby is actually awake and moving around. Kids will like seeing where baby goes and will potentially be lulled to a calmer state due to the soothing cadence of the rhythms and rhymes.


    3.22 The Perfect SiestaTHE PERFECT SIESTA 
    By Pato Mena

    In this book jaguar is very hot and tired in the jungle—so he decides that he wants to take a nap, a siesta. Only he wants to wake up in 10 minutes so that he can get up and go about his day. So he asks coati to wake him up. Coati agrees, then gets tired and wants to take a nap as well so he asks cockatiel to wake him up (and so on and so on down the animal alarm-clock chain). This is a fun book that shows kids how naps (which are often similar to bedtimes) are a happy thing that animals (and people) should be excited about. 

  • americana

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

    by Lane Smith

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

    by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

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

    by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day

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

    by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell

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

    by Susan Katz, illustrated by Robert Neubecker

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

  • bunnies

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

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

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


    by Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by Sam Williams

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


  • Dan Santat

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

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

    Written by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Dan Santat

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

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

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


    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

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



    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

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


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

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

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

  • Fairy books

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

    by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

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

    2The Fairy’s Mistake
    by Gail Carson Levine

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

    by David Ellwand

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

    by Cicely Mary Barker

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

    by K.Y. Craft

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

  • picturebookdiggie


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



    by Sarah Stewart; Illustrated by David Small

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


    library lion

    by Michelle Knudsen; Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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


    book book book

    by Deborah Bruss; Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

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


    by Carol Baicker-McKee

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


    boy who was raised by librarians

    by Carla D. Morris; Illustrated by Brad Sneed

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



  • ireland


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

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

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


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

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


    irish cinderladTHE IRISH CINDERLAD 
    by Shirley Climo

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


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

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


    by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

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


  • pp

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

    by Claire LaZebnik

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

    by Sally Smith O’Rourke

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

    by Pamela Aidan

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

    by Alexandra Potter

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

    by Shannon Hale

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

  • IB Books FB

    I care about the kids in my life. My nieces and nephews can be bundles of energy or calm, thoughtful thinkers; and my guess is that the children in your life are as changeable and important as my favorite munchkins. Each child needs a vast array of support and love. But there is one other thing that I believe every kid needs—books. 

    Books are tools for learning in so many ways:

    • Books teach language and thought processes

    • Books are entertainment—sometimes acting as an important escape from homework

    • Books help expand understanding and introduce new ideas

    • Books help navigate emotion and teach empathy

    All in all, books are pretty important for kids as they grow and develop. 

    Even though all kids need books, not all kids need the same type of book. A baby needs a book that she can hold (and often taste), while a child in early elementary school needs a book that is interesting but simple enough to read on his own. Thankfully, there are millions upon millions of books in the world! And a large collection of children’s books can be found here at the Provo City Library! We have books that span all types of subjects, formats, and reading levels. We have everything from baby board books to 800-page fantasy epics. There are Very Easy Readers for those just starting to sound out words and Discovery Kits for kinesthetic preschoolers who want to play as they learn. Basically, we have something for every child. 

    There is a saying that a child who doesn’t like to read just hasn’t found the right book yet. Here are just a few of the ways we help kids find what they need:

    • We have all kinds of book lists for those who only want a small amount of direction in their book hunting.
    • We also write a children’s books review blog, so you can know about some of the best books being published.
    • And, of course, we have amazing librarians who are trained to help youngsters find books that meet their individual needs.

    My hope is that every child can find something to read that they really enjoy. Because I believe children need books!

  • IB Creativity FB 1

    I believe that creativity matters. This may seem a little strange to talk about as far as libraries go, but bear with me. Many effective adults are masters of using creativity or imagination. Important innovators change the world based on their ability to think beyond what has already been done—a trait gained when they were young. Authors and illustrators (which are well-loved in library world) create stories and pictures from their imaginations. And as a manager, I often use imagination or creativity to tackle tough problems and to find successful solutions. In fact, being able to think creatively may be one of the traits most needed in the world today.

    A kid’s job is to play. When children play they exercise their brains, developing imagination and creativity. When they pretend one object is something else (like pretending a toy block is a phone), they grow in the ability to take what they have and turn it into what they want. But preschoolers playing pretend aren’t the only ones being creative. Kids also exercise their creativity when they work to make things—from artwork to music to a science slime project. This sort of creation requires children to think through what to draw, what medium to use, what note to play, or what amount of ingredient to add. The process of thinking ahead to create something they are excited about strengthens their ability to think through tough problems at school, and later as adults in the workplace.

    At the library we encourage creativity. One great way we do this is with events like our Fairy Tea Party. The first weekend of March, we turn the library ballroom into a magical fairyland. Kids ages 3 and up come dressed in fairy costumes to participate in the festivities. Even the library director gets to become the Fairy King to personally greet each little fairy. We believe that inviting children to use their imaginations with us will help them recognize the importance of keeping creativity a part of their lives. Because when a child has learned the magic of creativity, the world becomes a better place.  

  • IB Play FB

    One of the most important things that children can do is play. Playing is their job. Through playing kiddos are able to learn and grow. Let me explain: when a child plays “pretend” (whether through dress up, through puppet shows, with action figures, etc.), they are doing quite a few things:

    • First, they are using their imaginations to think through pretend scenarios.
    • Second, they develop their reasoning skills by reacting to how others are playing with them or how different “characters” play.
    • Third, they improve their social skills by playing with others.
    • And finally, they cultivate their pre-reading skills: Through pretending a child is more likely to understand and predict future book plots and storylines. 

    Basically, it is important for children to play. At the Provo City Library we provide different avenues for learning through play such as PRESCHOOL PLAY. This is a program where we put educational toys in the story circle that preschoolers can enjoy. This month, PRESCHOOL PLAY is happening Tuesday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Also, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm we have the LITTLE BUILDERS exhibit in The Attic. For both of these programs children and their caregivers are encouraged to play together. If you want your child to really get the most out of this experience, there are a few things you can do to enhance your child’s play:

    • Ask your child questions about what they are doing.
    • Listen and build upon their responses.
    • Encourage children to play with each other. Let them experience playing with kids they haven’t met before.
    • Play with them! Sometimes it is a parent who helps a child realize that they can pretend a block is a phone or an animal puppet can talk. 

    Kids can learn through play, and the Provo City Library is here to help provide play-enriched activities for learning.


    There is a stigma about learning: Learning is often associated with school and tests and things that happen between kindergarten and college—and it’s often seen as something a kid or teen is forced to do. However, I believe that learning can be fun and is actually a life-long process. 

    Think about how a baby will giggle once he learns how to mimic sticking his tongue out. He can’t get enough of the new skill. On the other end of life, I think about my grandmother who up until just a few months before she passed away was learning Spanish, studying Latin, watching documentaries about subjects that interested her, and knitting or crocheting afghans. She was in her 90s and still had an active mind that could run conversational circles around me. And she enjoyed it. (She often played games against me and declared she was the “Grand Champion of the Universe” when she beat me—which was quite frequently!) So, I do not believe that learning is boring or only something that kiddos in school should be doing. We can all enjoy being life-long learners! 

    The library is a great place for people who love to learn. We have so many great (and fun) educational resources. I can’t tell you how many times I see kids so excited that they are jumping up and down after getting out of an afterschool program—they just had so much fun learning! Yeah, you heard me right: Kids like learning. As long as it is a cool subject and they don’t have to take a test afterward…they will enjoy it. And let’s not forget about story time! There is so much giggling and laughing that goes along with those youngsters learning early literacy skills. Not to brag, but kids’ programs are one of our fortes. 

    But what about teens or adults? The good news is that the library has fun learning opportunities for us as well! First of all, the Adult and Teen Department does an amazing series of programs called Learn It. A Learn It can be about anything from personal finance to personal health. In September there is a Learn It about braiding and styling hair (even promising a few quick options for those mornings when you are running late). And there is a Learn It about the health benefits of chocolate. (Who knew that chocolate could be considered healthy?!?) 

    Another option for learning is the database that the library subscribes to. This is a great place to watch professional tutorial videos that are so much better than the YouTube alternatives. Lynda even has certification programs you can list on your resume. Plus, can be accessed from home! 

    Let’s not forget that there are all the regular (but incredible) materials that most people think about when it comes to libraries—books, movies, CDs, magazines—all of which you can check out! I personally love watching a random documentary about a fascinating subject at the end of a long week. Just last week I learned all about the Wright Brothers’ rival who helped change aeronautics as we know it. Who knew?! The point is, life-long learning is fun—and you can do it at the library!

  • IB Love FB

    For the past year I have been writing about library related topics that I believe in. To me the amazing things that libraries and reading can do are powerful and important—possibly even more important than slushies on a hot summer day (and to me and my family that is really saying something!). I can see how libraries have played an important part in my life. Without reading I would not be the person I am today. (And I don’t just mean being a librarian.) Reading has helped shape my character, study, and work habits as well.

    Knowing how reading and libraries have changed my life, I want to share why libraries are important to me. Just yesterday in a conversation I was asked if libraries were empty buildings that would eventually go out of business? Are people still interested in libraries since society could easily buy books to read on an electronic device? I shared that in addition to what traditionally comes to mind when one thinks of a library, there are also many other programs in addition to electronic books/audiobooks to check out. Libraries can also save patrons money by offering ebooks that can be checked out from their local library instead of buying them.

    Yes, libraries are great! They are diverse and robust and have something for everyone. What the mother of a toddler needs is different from the needs of the man I talked to yesterday which is why a library can help everyone. Libraries are unique in that they serve the whole community—no matter who you are or what you are interested in. It is a library's purpose to make sure that we can serve everyone in the community.

    It is sad that many people still think of libraries as quiet places with books, where cardigan-wearing librarians in glasses and buns shush anyone who so much as sneezes. Granted, I do tend to wear cardigans and I like to have my hair in a bun, but I am not the shushing monster librarian often portrayed in Hollywood. Instead I wish I could yell at the top of my lungs just how great libraries are. I want people to know how the Provo City Library can help them and how the library can change their lives just as it has for me. Only, I can’t do it alone. Will you join me? Do you love your library? Can you tell a friend about the Provo City Library—so that they too will learn just how amazing libraries are and how libraries can change the world, one person and one community at a time? Will you share what you love about the library?

  • IB More FB

    When I tell people that I work at a library many of them are surprised that libraries are more than just books. But they are! Yes, we have books—lots of them—for all different subjects and age ranges. But there is so much more to the library than just books. First of all, the Provo City Library has a variety of programs (like the Fairy Tea Party that I wrote about last month). Second, the library has a plethora of meeting rooms. Some are large and can be rented, like the Ballroom. Some are small and can be reserved at the First Floor Adult Reference Desk, such as our study rooms or smart room. Finally, some of my personal favorite things that aren’t books are the databases. Provo City Library has quite a few databases that can be especially helpful.

    AutoMate can help if you are fixing your car and you need diagrams or repair manual information.

    The Home Improvement Reference Center database can help those doing any sort of home improvement project.

    The Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center has loads of information on any craft or hobby you may want to learn or read about under the sun. has a plethora of movies made by professionals (not just random Youtube channel vloggers) to teach anything from how to use the Adobe Suit software to how to use a brand new camera you may have purchased. Seriously. If there is something you want to learn how to do—you should check out this database.

    The Adult Learning Center: Learning Express Library and the College Center:Learning Express Library both provide access to all sorts of practice tests. And another database lets you take practice DMV Permit tests.

    Freegal is a music database where you can download (and keep forever) three free songs and stream a few hours of music per week (and who doesn’t love free music?).

    OverDrive is amazing for ebooks and audiobooks, but it also has some movies you can stream or download for free.

    These are only a few of the databases that we have available on our library’s website! So, when you think of the Provo City Library, don’t just think of books—remember that we are so much more than books. We are entertainment, a community space, and a vast reference to community resources. Come visit to learn what else the library can be for you!

  • IB Comm FB

    It used to be that libraries were all about books—and not much beyond the books. Those days are long gone! Not only does the Provo City Library have books, we also have magazines, DVDs, books on CD, e-books, e-audiobooks, databases, meeting rooms, computers, programs, and much more! To me, the most important aspect of these services is that the library is a place where the community can come together. Think about that: The library is in a unique position for the people of Provo to come together and have a joint experience. 

    A great example of the powers of libraries happens each week during one of the seven Toddler Story Times. Toddlers and their grownups come to talk, sing, read, write, and play together. This experience helps children learn how to engage in conversations and explore ideas with others. And it gives a chance for parents to meet and talk to other parents who have children that are working through the same developmental stages. 

    For something more adult-oriented, every month there are a few library programs called Learn It @ Your Library. These programs give adults a chance to learn more about a topic that interests them. We have had programs about chocolate, buying your first home, how to do various hairstyles, cooking healthy meals, and how to write fiction (just to name a few). Here people can get together, learn, and then engage with others about subjects they are passionate about or want to learn more about. 

    The Provo City Library also has Family Programs. From family story times to family movie nights, these are events when the whole family can come to the library and have an enjoyable experience together. Perhaps a family will come to watch a movie and get excited together about a character saving the galaxy. Or maybe a family will enjoy one of our WorldLink or AuthorLink events where they learn more about a specific culture or meet a favorite author. Once a family comes to an experience at the library there are conversation and discussion topics for days, weeks, and possibly years to come. Our community needs a place where people can come together and have a safe place to talk about similar, interesting, or important topics. From hosting election voting in November to creating large programs for hundreds of children to transport themselves into fairyland or a space academy, the library is here for our community. Because I believe that libraries strengthen communities.

  • IB Leaders FB

    When I was first learning to love reading, I stumbled upon the book TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. As I was reading about Scout and her experiences, I realized that the world needs people who are not afraid to stand up and state their opinions. I decided I wanted to be like Atticus Finch or Scout in that I wanted to look for truth and talk about it. But how could I find truths and figure out what to actually stand up for and say? For that I turned to reading.

    By reading books I learned about other people, cultures, ideas, and thoughts. I was able to see different perspectives and decipher reasons as to why people or characters did what they did. By devouring books—both fiction and nonfiction—I learned about thought process, consequences, and influence. I didn’t become an expert at stating my opinions right away. One of the best ways I developed this skill was by practicing talking about the books I was reading. I did this in book clubs, with friends or family members, or in class discussions at school. The more that I talked about character’s actions or motivations the better I was at discerning my own actions and motivations, which in turn helped me become better at stating my own opinions on various topics. As I read I began to see what type of person I wanted to become—how to react in certain situations or how to step back and see a broader perspective when I feel a certain way. The more I read and talked about books the better I became at not only discovering myself but showing who I wanted to be to the world. Reading helped me not only discover who I wanted to be but it also helped me share my truth with the world.

    The Provo City Library has something to facilitate this journey of discovery and insight—to help people learn how to stand up and state their opinions: We have a collection of book club sets. In this collection, you can check out 15 copies of a book and a discussion guide to help you get going. When people read and talk about books, they discover that they too are leaders—Because Readers are Leaders.

  • IB Adventures FB

    If you read a book you can have an adventure without leaving the safety of your home. Books are magical in that they can take you to distant lands, times, or even to make believe worlds. Through reading you can meet characters and people—both real and imagined—and discover more about them and yourself. Whether you want to learn more about a subject or if you would like to escape reality, books are there for you. You as a reader can choose your own adventures from the vast selection at the library.

    It gets trickier for little ones who don’t know how to find things because they can’t type searches into a catalog computer or might be too shy to ask a librarian for assistance. For these kiddos we have a couple of ways to help them find the right adventure—or the right books. First of all there is a Hot Topic section within our juvenile picture books. Here we have multiple subjects that preschoolers (or their grownups) tend to ask for the most: princess books, dinosaur books, superhero books, things that go (transportation) books, etc. All of the picture books on that particular topic are shelved in the same place with a picture sign on top of the shelves. That way kids can learn where these sections are and they can browse to find books that look interesting to them on topics that they love. They can choose the books for their next reading adventure.

    Next, we have something called Discovery Kits. This is a set of books, activity and craft suggestions, songs, finger plays, and manipulatives all based on one particular subject. While it is true that a grownup must go online and request a Discovery Kit and know when to pick it up, these are great for the kids who want to explore topics in more ways than just reading. For example, if a child is interested in bugs then a parent can check out the “Bugs” Discovery Kit. In it there are books, toy bugs, a magnifying glass in case a child wants to look a little closer at bugs in her backyard, and a binder full of other songs, games, activities, and craft ideas. By golly, if a child wants to have an adventure learning about bugs this Discovery Kit will help them do just that! And there are quite a few other Discovery Kit topics to choose from.

    The Provo City Library wants all readers—no matter what their age—to be able to choose what reading adventure they have. Come on down to the library, and we will help you find which book will take you on your next adventure.

  • IB Stories FB

    When I was at grad school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (go Illini!), I took a class on storytelling. When I signed up for the class I didn’t totally understand what I was getting into or why storytelling was so important. The first thing that I noticed was that it wasn’t just youth services people who would take the storytelling class. There were students from law school or getting their MBA that were also in my class (even though it was taught by a librarian). I learned from the class and those law and MBA students that everyone tells stories. Lawyers argue cases using the storyline of events. MBA professionals report to shareholders using stories and statistics.

    Stories are also an important part of our daily lives—not just the lives of professional lawyers, business women, or journalists. Think about it: If you have a good or a bad day, don’t you go and tell a family member or friend all about it?  I sure do. And that is a story that we share. We all use stories. They are part of our lives—from the stories we tell or experience to the stories we read or watch on the big screen.

    The thing is, when we notice the stories all around us, we will discover that stories have power in our lives. If I watch a sad movie I am a little melancholy afterward. If I read a book where the heroine meets and falls in love with Mr. Darcy, I have an extra bounce in my step once I finish. Stories have a power. They can help me understand the world around me or the emotions inside myself—including amplifying or altering the emotions I currently have. And they can influence how I act in the future or who I trust. Stories have power—some seriously influential power.

    Because the Provo City Library believes that stories have power, we believe in introducing stories to even the youngest patrons. We have a program called Book Babies that helps babies (even those only a few days old) hear songs—another form of storytelling—so that they can be introduced to language, rhythm, and words. We have Story Time (and puppet shows) that focus on books and stories to help young children understand cause/effect or prediction/foreshadowing. And during this month we also have Stories in the Park, so kids who have a hard time getting to the library can experience stories. We want to empower children with the ability to understand and communicate through stories!

    Kids who attend story time can learn about stories. They can learn about narration and predict endings. They can learn about characters and imagining they are characters in a story. They can hear words and discover how putting the words together can make a story. Kids can then learn how to tell their stories when they participate in Story Time at the library.

    I believe that stories have power! If you do as well, then join me at the library this month. Come to Cuentos, Canopy Capers, Summer Story Time, Book Babies, or Stories in the Park. Join me in helping children realize the power of stories, and the power that comes to their lives when stories are in them.

  • IB Everyone FB 1

    There is a saying that people who don’t like to read just haven’t found the right book yet. I believe this—that there is a book for everyone.

    In the course of my life, I have had many roommates that have said they don’t like to read. When one roommate in particular said she didn’t like reading, I asked why not. It turns out that she didn’t like any of the books she was forced to read in school and therefore thought that she must hate all books. I knew that chances were she just hadn’t met the right book yet. So, after learning more about her taste in hobbies, movies, and other activities, I started bringing home stacks of books from the library. After some time, she started to look at those books, read them, and ask for more.

    She discovered that with the right book she actually enjoyed reading! Now she is one of the more keen readers that I know.

    This happens quite a bit. Often, those who don’t think they like reading will discover that they just haven’t found the right type or format of book yet. Some people are avid readers when they have audio books. Some people devour comics or graphic novels. Some kiddos need books with the right combination of topic interest and reading levels.

    Luckily for all of us, those books are out there, and there are librarians who can help anyone find the right book for them to read next. At the Provo City Library we have something called Personalized Reading Recommendations. This is a free service where you can fill out an online form indicating what types of books you like (or don’t like). Then one of our librarians will make a personalized list of book recommendations for you to check out.

    Reading can be one of the most enriching hobbies that you can take with you anywhere and do at any time. (And at this time of year it’s quite a cozy hobby to enjoy even in the midst of a cold, stormy night.) If you have a hard time finding a book that you enjoy reading, come talk to a librarian or fill out a Personalized Reading Recommendation form. Because there is a book for everyone, and we would love to help you find it!

  • If you are the type that likes to sing “Home on the Range” while rustlin’ up some Texas chili with extra hot peppers, then you also might be the type that enjoys a tall tale or two that have to do with cowboys. These tall tales are sure to get you into a cowboy mood that may even warrant saddling’ up a horse and rounding up some cattle…or a bad guy or two.

    cowboys 01

    Find them in the Catalog: 




  •  juvenile horror magic 01

    By Anne Ursu

    Iris and Lark are twin sisters and they do everything together—until their parents decide that they should start doing things on their own. Suddenly Iris who is often grounded in facts and reality feels like she is drifting without an anchor (her sister) and Lark becomes more and more withdrawn (from everyone including her sister). When mysterious ravens start watching the girls and items start disappearing all over town Iris figures out that something is amiss—only nobody believes her. With a dark magic threatening all that she holds dear, will Iris be able to overcome her frustrations and fears to save “the lost girl”?

    By Gregory Funaro

    Lucy and Oliver’s family has had a hard time since the death of their mother. When their father is given a chance to go and live in the grand Blackford House for the summer to fix an old clock in the building they feel like they are finally getting a break—only there is more to the mansion than the owner revealed and some of it is good and friendly and some is dark and evil. Can Lucy and Oliver figure out the puzzle to fixing the cuckoo clock and saving their family?

    By Ben Guterson

    Elizabeth is an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle (who don’t actually like her). Strangely, Elizabeth is mysteriously sent to Winterhouse—a grand hotel—for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday even though she knows that her aunt and uncle would never pay for her to go there. Elizabeth knows that something is up. Winterhouse turns out to be lovely—mostly. There are strange puzzles and bits of magic that keep Elizabeth and her friend Freddy on their toes. And Elizabeth is afraid that if she doesn’t solve the biggest puzzle of Winterhouse than it could be the end of everything. Will Elizabeth be able to figure out who is good and who is bad and what the clues to the puzzle really mean in time to save everyone and the hotel?

  • joella super


    Next in our series of behind-the-scenes peeks into the inner workings of the library, we'll talk with Joella Peterson, our Children's Services Manager. 

    You're the Children's Services Manager here at the Library. I know your job involves many kinds of work, but explain it as best you can.

    I make sure the Children’s Department– employees, programs, projects– happens. That means I am in charge of training librarians and storytellers to know what their jobs are and how they can best serve the library patrons. I need to make sure that people are here to answer questions at the reference desk or to make the programs happen. I basically am juggling a whole bunch of schedules and ideas and making sure everything happens to make the Children’s Department great.

    What kind of library jobs have you had in the past?

    I started off my library career here at the Provo Library as a page. That meant that I was tasked with putting books away. I have also worked in the mending and processing departments of another library. I was a graduate assistant at the Center for Children’s Books.  I have been a Youth Services Librarian for seven years.

    At what point did you know you wanted to be a librarian?

    When I was graduating from college with my Bachelor’s degree I decided to write a list of the 5 things I was looking for in a job—because when you are about ready to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in English you start to wonder just what to do with that degree. Here are the five things I wanted in an ideal job: 1. To work with kids. 2. To have what I did change from day to day. 3. To somehow work with books. 4. To do something fun. And 5. To potentially dress up. It turns out that being a children’s librarian fits all five of those criteria. So after talking to an actual librarian, I started pursuing a library career.

    You were on the Odyssey committee in 2015, which judges the best audiobooks of the year. How did that impact your life?

    Oh, that was a crazy year. Basically I became a hermit for a year. I would go to work and then listen to audio books. I would listen to audio books on my commute to and from work, at lunch, and after work. I listened for anywhere from only 3 hours after work (on a slow day) to sometimes 10 to 12 hours on a weekend when I didn’t have to work. When reading a physical copy of a book you can skim or speed read and still get the gist of the book. With the Odyssey we were charged to find the best audio book. Which meant we couldn’t skip bits. We had to listen to the pace of the narrator, the pronunciation, if the breathing or pauses were too noticeable. Everything was determined based on the audio performance and editing. And that isn’t something you can just listen to a half an hour of and declare a winner. So it was hard. I turned down a lot of “extra” things that I normally would do. I had Thanksgiving dinner with my family, then went back to listening to audio books (I only took out my ear buds to eat the food with them). But at the same time it was an amazing experience. I feel like I have a greater understanding of what makes a high quality audio book and I think we picked a great winner (THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE) and honor (ECHO).

    How has this job changed the way you see the Library's role in the community?

    Before being the Children’s Services Manager I was a Youth Services Librarian for seven years. I knew the impact of my programs and of the library in general. But now I can see the impact of libraries to the whole. I moved from worrying about making sure that I had early literacy elements in my story times to figuring out how I could get those story times out of the libraries (Stories in the Park!) so that the kiddos who need the early literacy elements but can’t always get to the library can still benefit from what the library has to offer. Now my role is to think about the bigger picture and how to best serve the community with the resources and programs that we have.

    Where do you see the Library in 20 years?

    I believe the library will become more and more of a community center. The library isn’t just about books like they were 50 years ago. Now libraries are about information—both in print and digital. Now libraries are about technology and where people can go to have group meetings. The Children’s Library is about experiences and memories they can create—like story time, the Fairy Tea Party, or Make and Take Crafts. I think that will only build in the coming years.

    What about 50? Sorry if this is tough.

    Ha. I will have to find Hermione Granger’s time turner necklace to figure that out!

    Finally, what are you reading right now?

    I just started THE BEST MAN by Richard Peck. 

  • sing a song


    Today is a great day to sing a song with a child! Why? Let me tell you!  

    May 11, 1888 was the birthday of the famous composer/songwriter Irving Berlin. When I think of classic American music, Irving Berlin is one of the names that come to mind (as I write this I am starting to hum the tune “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”!). However, most little kiddos don’t really know who this amazing composer was. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t teach some great classic songs (such as “Puttin’ on the Ritz” or “God Bless America” by Berlin) to the youngsters in your life. Or, if Berlin’s songs aren’t your cup of tea, sing anything that you enjoy!  

    Did you know that music is a great way to help children prepare to read? When children learn songs there are a few things that happen. First, songs often have a different note for each syllable that is sung. Children who sing tend to learn (without even knowing that they are learning) that various sounds (or syllables) make up words. And later they learn that a group of words create a sentence—so those little ones that sing or are sung to tend to figure out how syllables work before they sit down and start to learn how to read.  

    Also, many songs have words that are unfamiliar to children. Think of the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” How many 1 or 2-year-olds do you know that recognize the word “fleece”? Yet there it is in a song that they sing and hear so often that by the time they are a couple of years older they can sing that song all on their own and most likely will learn what that word means. Singing introduces new language and vocabulary to children.  

    A third reason to sing to little ones is that often there are rhymes in songs. Think of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” In the first verse there are the rhymes of “star/are” and “high/sky.” As children sing or hear these rhyming bits over and over again they learn that some sounds and endings are similar. This helps so that when they start reading they will have a head-start on understanding that various sounds can be used for multiple words and how different combinations of letters can make similar sounds (such as the “high/sky” example).  

    All in all, there is a lot of early literacy that happens when you sing to or with a child who hasn’t learned how to read yet. So in honor of Irving Berlin’s birthday, sing a song with a little one! It may not be one of Berlin’s own songs that get your toes tappin’—but sing together today and you will help that little one get ahead of the game in learning how to read tomorrow.

  • mock caldecott 01

    The Provo City Library has a tradition of hosting a Mock Caldecott every January before the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) picks the real 2017 Caldecott Award winner. We narrowed down what books we would be talking about to 39 books. Then we looked at the books, had some discussion as to what makes a “distinguished” picture book, and then we voted. It took many, many rounds of voting (and a lot of discussion) but we finally came out with one winner and four honors for our Mock Caldecott.

    2017 Mock Caldecott Winner

    they all saw a cat 1

    by Brendan Wenzel

    This is a clever book. The concept is that a cat goes through the book and different people/animals see the cat—only since each creature has a different perspective the different things see the animals in a different way. For example, a mouse that might be very frightened of a cat sees a fierce creature. The illustrations then show a lot of red and sharp edges (with the exception of the mouse who is rounded and quite afraid of the cat).

    cat mouse

    In contrast when readers turn the page they see the cat from a bee’s perspective which is more of a pointillism style which goes along with the type of eyes a bee would have—except for the bee, which is not depicted in pointillism since the reader is looking at the bee and the bee’s perspective of the cat.

    cat bee

    Like I said, this is a clever book. And hopefully you all can see why our Mock Caldecott committee picked this for our winner.

    2017 Mock Caldecott Honor Books  

    Du Iz TakDU IZ TAK?
    by Carson Ellis

    In this stylized portrayal of the insect world (complete with their own insect language) readers will watch insects discover a plant and what it grows into. With the brilliant use of white space the growth of the plant and dramatic entry of the bird will wow readers as they view this glimpse into a microscopic world. 


    Henry and LeoHENRY & LEO
    by Pamela Zagarenski

    Henry loves his stuffed toy lion named Leo. One day Henry and his family go for a walk in the woods and Henry loses Leo. The layered textures of the illustrations show the magical way that Leo finds his way back to Henry despite the family’s lack of belief in how real toys—and best friends—can be.    



    night gardenerTHE NIGHT GARDENER
    by The Fan Brothers

    A young boy watches a night gardener change the atmosphere of a small town when he creates topiaries overnight. The subtle shift of colors from the beginning to the end of the story heightens the magic and drama of the amazing gardening and this enchanting tale.  




    snow whiteSNOW WHITE
    by Matt Phelan

    This graphic novel is a fairy tale retelling set in 1928 New York City of Snow White. The colors and style of the illustrations add to the ambiance of the setting (and the subtle addition of color(s) heightens the tension of the climax and happiness of the denouement). 




  • mock newbery 01


    For the first time this year the Children’s Department of the Provo City Library hosted a Mock Newbery. The announcement of the real Newbery Award Winner will be announced on Monday, January 23rd. But we decided we wanted to figure out what we would consider to be our top pick for the most distinguished writing for children ages 0-14 years old. We narrowed the list of potential candidates down to 15 titles (thanks to a rubric of how many starred reviews they got, if they were mentioned in other Mock Newbery blogs, and a book club vote). After a few hours of talking, here is what we came up with.

    2017 Mock Newbery Winner:

    girl who drank the moon

    By Kelly Barnhill

    This is the story of a people who every year sacrifice their youngest child to a witch. Only the witch doesn’t really eat/kill the child like the people think. Instead she saves the children from death in a dangerous forest and takes them to other villages, feeding them with starlight and giving them to families who eagerly wait to raise the “Star Children” as their own. One year, the witch accidentally gives the child a bit of the moon to drink, which causes her to have magical abilities. Unable to resist raising the child as her own, the witch keeps the girl, a decision with far-reaching consequences. 

    This is a beautiful fantasy book. The writing is lyrical, and would be delightful to read out loud. We enjoyed the way that various perspectives and stories wove together to create one novel. We loved the characters and felt that even the minor characters were well developed. Barnhill’s world-building skills are top notch; we are intrigued by the world she created that at once feels entirely unique but also incredibly accessible. We also liked how fear became its own character that was a force to be reckoned with. There is mystery, there is danger, there is madness, and love, and courage of all kinds. All in all, this was a great book that we hope will also get some recognition on the 23rd.

    We also chose three honor books; all of these were someone’s favorite and were hotly debated as to whether they should be our winner. They are:

    By Adam Gidwitz, Illuminated by Hatem Aly

    This is a story of three children who are magical in their own right. The children are shunned by a medieval society and soon realize that as they go on their life’s journey that all is not quite what it seems.

    Our Mock Newbery committee liked how this story seemed different from anything that most of us have ever read before (it may be described as Canterbury Tales, Jr.). We enjoyed how the humor, history and storytelling were interwoven with ideas that are relevant to discuss today. And the moment when we realized just who the narrator was—that was a powerful moment! All in all, we hope this book gets some recognition next week as well.    


    By Karen Harrington

    This is a story of Wayne, a kid who likes facts and struggles with family issues (obnoxious grandpa, divorced dad who doesn’t understand him, and an uncle who died in the war). We specifically liked Wayne as a character. We thought he was well written and a kid any of us would like to have come to our library so that we could meet him. We liked all the side characters. The grandpa and friends seemed as well developed as Wayne. And we liked the pacing and the story arc. This was another beautifully written middle grade novel that will get kids thinking about their words and what they would say if they could (or couldn’t). Again, this would be another great choice—in our opinion—for an award.    


    wolf hollowWOLF HOLLOW
    By Lauren Wolk

    This is the story of young Annabelle (who learned a lot the year she turned twelve). Annabelle lives in a relatively quiet world…until Betty comes to live in her area. Betty turns out to be quite a vicious bully. In fact, a lot of hard, sad things happen to people and the community as a result of Betty’s actions. Our Mock Newbery Committee agreed that this was a beautifully written story. It seemed like each word and sentence was chosen with care to make the most of this story. The characters are strong and create strong emotional reactions that seemed to haunt many of our committee. Also, this is a book with a lot to discuss. There were lots of questions and thoughts that came about because of this book. And bits of it stayed with many of us long after we had read the book. By far this book sparked the liveliest debate among the committee, with passionate readers arguing for and against it. In the end, our committee felt that this book deserves some recognition next week.        


    So there you have it. Our top four books for our Newbery pick. Now if only we can wait a few more days to find out just what the real Newbery Committee has chosen for their winners! What books would you choose for the Newbery this year? 

  •  refugees

    Let’s face it. The world isn’t always a wonderful place. No matter how much you look at it there are just some events that are awful. But how can grownups help little ones understand what is going on without scaring them or shocking them with too much information? Enter these two new picture books that portray refugees fleeing their home countries—yet deal with the events in such a sensitive way that little readers are not too upset after having read the book.

    journeyTHE JOURNEY
    by Francesca Sanna

    This book tells the tale of a family who used to love to spend weekends together at the beach. But then war came and the “war took my father.” Life gets darker. The illustrations get darker (as in more black and dark colors, not in gruesome details). The mother decides to flee with her two children. Thus the title’s “journey” begins.

    At the beginning of their travels the people that are helping the family look very detailed. Then later when the family encounters soldiers or “a man we have never seen” the details are more generic or downright basic (the soldiers all look the same, the “man” is depicted as just a shadow). This gives a sense that the story is building to a crescendo (will they be able to leave and is this story bigger than just this one family?). There is also one picture that melts my heart. At one point the children are being comforted by their mother. Eventually the kids go to sleep and “mother is with us and she is never scared.” However, the illustration of the mother is of her with tears streaming down her face while she holds her sleeping children. The power of the mother’s hopefulness for her children just touches me.

    With a hopeful ending and darkness in color rather than disturbing imagery, this is a powerful story that can help young readers understand what is happening in other parts of the world.


    by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
    Art by Brian Deines

    In this biographical story, readers learn about Tuan and his journey out of Vietnam with his mother and two sisters. Tuan’s father and oldest sister had already left Vietnam and had made it safely to Canada. Now Tuan, his mother, and two more sisters start their journey to have a better life (and how heartbreaking that they had to leave the youngest sister because she was too little to travel yet). The family along with an aunt and some cousins sneak away in a truck. Then they must run to a skiff amid a volley of bullets from soldiers in the distance. There is the long period of drifting on a boat and hoping that they will be found and rescued. Finally, there is an American ship that rescues them and helps them survive.

    This is a powerful story about a family’s courage. Topics such as soldiers shooting at them, hunger, and survival are interwoven into the story; however, it is done in such a way that some of the sensitive readers will still be able to handle reading the book. The book also includes photographs and extra information to explain what happened to this real family (and don’t worry—it is a happy conclusion).

    So, if you know children who are concerned about what is happening around the world, these are two excellent books that can help start a conversation about what is going on. These books don’t explain everything that is going on and they don’t touch on the humanitarian horrors that are happening. But it is a good starting place to open a conversation and help a child understand the importance of some journeys. And with a little touch of hope at the end, the stories also remind us that there still is good in the world—even amidst some of the darkness. 

  •  Mock combined

    Every year the Provo Library gets together to try to guess what books will become the winners of the coveted Caldecott Award and the Newbery Award both given by the American Library Association’s ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) division. The Caldecott Award is given for the best illustrations in a children’s book for the year. The Newbery is given for the best writing in a children’s book for the year. There was a lot of discussion (and passion) for different books; however, these are the books that rose to the top. What are your picks for the best children’s book or children’s book illustrations? 

    2.12 Blue Sky White StarsMock Caldecott Winner: BLUE SKY WHITE STARS
    By Sarvinder Naberhaus
    Illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

    In this patriotic book Naberhaus compares the United States flag to the country—both the people and the land. The blue sky and white stars could be a part of the flag—or it could be the blue sky full of white stars above the Statue of Liberty. There are “sea waves” that lap against our shores or we can “see waves” of the flag as it flutters in the breeze. Each page depicts a different part of patriotic zeal associated both with the symbols of the United States and with the parts and people of the country. And of course we have to talk about the illustrations! These illustrations are quite stunning. Nelson has managed to depict scenes that one Mock Caldecott attendee described as a “modern day Norman Rockwell type of illustrations.” Needless to say many in our group were quite enamored with the details and expressions in the pictures. 


    2.12 Grand CanyonMock Caldecott Honor: GRAND CANYON
    By Jason Chin 

    This is one of my favorite books of the year. In it Chin talks about the different parts of the Grand Canyon—one of the most iconic landscapes in North America. Not only does it tell about how the canyon was formed, but it also goes into detail about the geological layers, the flora within the different regions of the canyon, and what fauna can be found there. Also, this information all comes about through the well-written text. But the true star of the book is in the illustrations. The main illustrations depict a story all on their own of a girl and her father as they camp and hike through the Grand Canyon. Plus those illustrations look like they are placed on top of animal or nature field guides that showcase the various wildlife and plant life and habitats within the area. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrations also have some cut outs—which help to show readers the past life of fossils or rocks that the characters see while on their trip. The illustrations give a life and purpose to knowing all the facts and details listed in the text—and it increases a reader’s desire to visit that great National Park! 


    2.12 TriangleMock Caldecott Honor: TRIANGLE
    By Mac Barnett
    Illustrated by Jon Klassen 

    This is a tale of two shapes that are friends. Triangle lives in a triangle house among shapes that are triangles for a landscape. Square lives in a square house in a place with square shapes all around. One day Triangle goes out on a quest to play a “sneaky trick” on Square. And he succeeds in scaring Square—which in turn causes Square to want to retaliate by playing a trick on Triangle. The beauty of the illustrations of this book are most prominent in the shapes themselves—specifically the expressiveness in their eyes. These little oval spheres with black dots convey such emotion! How in the world Klassen can indicate what each shape is thinking just through the eyes is remarkable. And one of the main reasons as to why this was one of our Mock Caldecott Honor picks.  


    By Steve Sheinkin 

    Sheinkin tells the story of how Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner, and many others changed the way football is played today. Most people know about Jim Thorpe as a football player, but the background of where he came from, the atrocities that he and his classmates endured, and those other teammates that shaped the game of football are less known. The beauty of this book is that even though this is a book full of facts and bits of history it doesn’t read like a boring textbook. In fact, many of the Mock Newbery participates don’t even like football—yet they really liked this book! With phenomenal writing and a good story it isn’t a surprise that this book was a strong contender.  


    2.12 Tumble and BlueMock Newbery Honor: TUMBLE & BLUE
    By Cassie Beasley 

    This is the story of Blue (who no matter what loses at anything he tries) and Tumble (a girl who more than anything wants to be a hero to save the day). When Blue is dropped off at his grandmother’s house just before a magical chance to change their fates—if they figure out how to meet a crocodile with magical abilities—he is hopeful that this will be the beginning of good things. Tumble does not believe in all the fate/destiny talk that Blue’s family is certain of, yet she does believe in helping Blue navigate his bad luck. This magical realism story is well-written for the intended audience. The discussion, comments, and love that we had for this book made it quite a strong contender. Some of the strengths that we especially liked were: the characters, the setting, the pace, the dialog—well, just about everything! It was refreshing to see not only the main characters grow throughout the story, but the minor characters seemed well-developed as well.  


    2.12 Beyond the Bright SeaMock Newbery Honor: BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA
    By Lauren Wolk 

    Crow is uncertain where she comes from. She knows that Osh rescued and has raised her—and she loves him. Only, she can’t stop wondering about her past. When Crow starts looking into the history of an island that housed a leper colony she finds more mysteries and danger than answers. We not only knew Crow and Osh and Miss Maggie, but we knew the Elizabeth Islands and the historical setting when the story takes place.  Along with the characters and the story, particular phrases and sentences stuck with us long after we read the book. Wolk is a master wordsmith. And this book received quite a bit of love at our Mock Newbery event.

  • mock caldecott 01 

    We have a tradition here at the Provo City Library to do a Mock Caldecott—both to help us understand the process that the real Caldecott committee goes through to pick "the most distinguished book in children’s literature," and to help us get to know and love the picture books that came out in the past year. The Caldecott is awarded specifically to illustrators of children's books, and only American illustrators are eligible (check out a few of our recent favorites from international illustrators here).

    This year our group of 26 children’s book friends picked one winner and four honor books.


    1.22 Bear Came AlongBEAR CAME ALONG
    Written by Richard T. Morris
    Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

    This book is about a bear that goes on a journey down a river. The story is fun, but the illustrations were what made the book for our Mock Caldecott group. First of all, we loved the color. You may notice that the bear at first is not even fully colored. It is only when he goes to the river that he becomes the rich brown bear that is depicted in the rest of the book. Plus, if there are also other details that show that the closer to the river something is, the more color there is on that thing. The use of color tells as much of a story as does the actual story.

    We also loved the use of line and motion for the book. The way that the river jogs through the pages is brilliantly done and it gets us to want to turn the page to see what is happening next. Speaking of page turns, the one where readers know that a waterfall is coming is pure perspective brilliance.

    Yeah, we really liked this book. 


    Honor Books (in alphabetical order by title):

    1.22 Field Trip to the MoonFIELD TRIP TO THE MOON
    Written and illustrated by John Hare

    In this story a young astronaut goes on a field trip (on a spaceship school bus) to the moon. However, once there, the moon-visitor gets distracted and starts coloring with crayons on a notepad. There is so much to draw that soon the spaceship school bus leaves, stranding the young cosmonaut. He ends up meeting a group of aliens who are enthralled with the box of crayons he uses for art. This wordless picture book is full of brilliant colors that pop against black, grey, and white backgrounds. 


    Written by Kevin Noble Maillard
    Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

    This picture book tells the story of a Native American family that spends time together making fry bread. The illustrations are beautiful. We loved the vivid expressions on the characters' faces, the diversity of the family (they don’t all look like the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans, which is a breath of fresh air), and the extra details that add so much to each illustration. Plus, for added happiness there is a recipe in the back! 


    1.22 Rabbit and the MotorbikeRABBIT AND THE MOTORBIKE
    Written by Kate Hoefler
    Illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

    This story is about Rabbit who always stays close to home, prefering to listen to his friend Dog's stories of adventure on a motorbike. But one day, Dog is gone and leaves his motorbike to Rabbit. Our group loved the details and the lines of motion in this story. We especially loved the full-page spreads that showed the emotions connected to all of Rabbit’s feelings and adventures. 


    1.22 A Stone Sat StillA STONE SAT STILL
    Written and Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

    Stone doesn’t go very far—and yet there is so much that happens. From the various creatures that come and use the stone to all the light and dark moments there is a lot that happens in one small place. Our group loved how the illustrations depicted so much—each illustration has a unique feeling that matches the various moments for the stone. These are illustrations that beg to be looked at multiple times so that you can see all of the things hidden in the pictures.

  •  Reading Together Final

    The Provo City Library is excited to announce our new collection of Read Along Books! Each Read Along Book comes with an attached audio player—that way young listeners can hear the audio recording of the book, complete with page turn signals, as they read. We were so excited about our new collection that we wanted to show you what Read Alongs are, where they are located in the library, and how you can find them in our catalog.


    Be aware that some of the book covers for these Read Alongs may look different from what you are used to with regular library books. For example, the dust jacket (that paper that covers the hard bit of the book) for COME HOME ALREADY looks like this:

    10.16 Come Home Already Regular Cover


    While GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE looks like this:

    10.16 Giraffes Cant Dance


    The Read Alongs look a little bit different, like this:

    10.16 Come Home Already Vox Cover


    or this:

    10.16 Giraffes Cant Dance Wonder Cover


    This is different from the regular book covers in that they have either this Vox Books sticker:

    10.16 Vox Sticker


    Or a Wonder Book sticker:

    Wonderbook Sticker



    Vox Books and Wonder Books are two different companies that create Read Along books. Just like there are different book publishers for regular books, there are different publishers for Read Along books.

    The Vox Books player that produces the audio for the book looks like this:

    10.16 Inside a Vox Book

    On the side of the Vox player is where you can turn on the device.

    10.16 Side of a Vox Book

    You can press play on the top part of a Vox Book here:

    10.16 Vox Press Play


    The Wonder Books are similar; here is what a Wonder Books device looks like:

     10.16 Wonder Device

    Here is  the power button for a Wonder Book:

    10.16 Wonder Power Button

    And this is where you would press “play” for a Wonder Book:

    10.16 Wonder Press Play



    These fabulous Read Alongs are located in the Children’s Department on our Audio/Visual shelves.

    10.16 Read Along Shelf Sign

    just above the hanging book/cd collection.

    10.16 Read Along Shelf



    As you can see, there aren’t that many books on the shelf right now—most of them are all checked out! So, you can find out which read alongs are available in the library catalog by:

    1. Pulling up the library’s website.

    2. Looking in the upper right hand corner of our website to find the catalog search box. Then type “jrp” (which stands for “Juvenile Read Along Picture Books”) and hit enter.

    10.16 Enter JRP in catalog

    3. Once you hit enter, a search results page will open. Scroll down. On the left hand side there is a string of ways to “Limit Search Results”. The very last (on the bottom) of these is the way you can limit by “collection”. Check the box that is by the “JRP” as a collection type.

    10.16 Collection JRP

    4. Press the “Include” button.

    10.16 Collection JRP Include



    The second type of Read Alongs that we have are the Juvenile Read Along Easy Readers, like DINOTRUX GO TO SCHOOL.

    10.16 Dinotrux Easy Reader Wonderbook Cover


    To find these in the catalog you would do the exact same thing that I described above, only you would:

    1. Enter “jre” in the catalog search box (instead of “jrp”).

    10.16 Enter JRE in Catalog

    2. Down at the bottom of the “Limit Search Results” boxes you would find the limit by “collection” box and check the box by “JRE” as a collection type.

    10.16 Collection JRE

    3. Then press the “Include” button.

    10.16 Collection JRE Include


    There is a limit of three Read Alongs that can be checked out on a library card at any given time. So just remember that if you have multiple holds come in all at once you are still limited to only checking out three Read Alongs at a time. Like other library materials, this collection can be checked out for three weeks.

    There you go. Hopefully, now you know more about the brand new Read Along collection, a little bit about how they work, and how to find them in the library and in the catalog. We hope you enjoy this fun new way of interacting with books!

    Forgive me for such a long blog post! I just want to make sure I give you all the information about this fun new collection! If you still have questions after this lengthy post, please feel free to talk to a Children’s Librarian about the Read Alongs.

  • Read to Travel

    Once again I’m back to talk about places I have traveled because of books that I have read—or places that I loved going to visit  because of the literature that was written there. Hannibal, Rome, London, and Concord have all made my list. Today I’m going to talk about my second favorite place(s) to go on vacation due to books I have read. And yes, if you noticed, this place is really two places. It would have been three  dream places if my time hadn’t been so short. 

    Bath & Chawton, England

    I know I already mentioned London earlier—and I still love that choice. But I seriously took two major detours when traveling in England for one author: Jane Austen! So yes, London is amazing; however, Bath & Chawton—specifically Chawton—were places that I went specifically because of reading (and I was not disappointed!). 

    The only reason I went to Bath was because of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION (and if pressed possibly because of Northanger Abbey as well). Without Jane and her novels I probably wouldn’t have been persuaded to go visit Bath. And to be completely honest without this adaptation of the movie PERSUASION, I probably wouldn’t have recognized just how beautiful Bath is and wouldn’t have had such a desire to go and see where Anne Elliot lived and finally got her happily ever after. While in Bath we visited the Roman Baths and the Royal Crescent (yes, that one spot that every movie set in Bath uses because it is that beautiful). I swear Anne Elliot must have been just around the corner while we were there… 

    classic Bath

    Joella at the Roman Baths in Bath


    I couldn’t travel to Jane Austen country without actually going to Chawton, England—the place where the Jane Austen Museum is. It was here that Jane wrote and/or revised all six of her completed works: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, MANSFIELD PARK, NORTHANGER ABBEY, EMMA, and PERSUASION. Not only that, but at the museum you can see the writing table where Jane wrote everything. The. Desk. Where. All. The. Things. Were. Written! Plus you can see Jane’s ring—the ring that lived on her finger! This is the vacation spot for all of you who wish to geek-out about all things Jane Austen! 


    When walking around Bath or in the gardens at the Jane Austen Museum, I truly got a feel for what it might have been like for Jane Austen to live there and write there. These two locations had some of the most fan-girl-like moments to connect one to Jane Austen. It truly felt like I made some sort of pilgrimage to be in my favorite books written by my favorite author (and for a librarian who likes SO MANY books, this is quite the confession)!

     Jane Austen s writing table

    Joella at Jane Austen s House

    The only thing that would have made this literary vacation even better was if I could have gone up to see the Pemberley location from the 1995 movie version of Pride and Prejudice. That would have possibly sent this vacation to the very top of my read to travel list. Alas, with only so much time over the pond it didn’t happen…but there is always next time, eh? 

    Joella reading on a beach while traveling

    So there you have it, my penultimate literary vacation spot. Only one more left. Where do you think it will be? 

  • Read to Travel

    Hopefully you all aren’t tired of these random  vacation  posts yet! I have been talking about some of my favorite places to travel because of the books that are associated with them—or perhaps they have become some of my favorite books because of the places I have traveled…

    Either way, I have talked about Hannibal, Missouri; Rome, Italy; and London, England so far. Today I’m talking about another location that I had planned to visit for years, Concord, Massachusetts.

    3. Concord, Massachusetts, USA

    When I first went to Concord, Massachusetts, it felt like a dream come true! At that point I had just graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in English (note: this means I had read a lot of American literature, and I do mean A LOT). I had studied so many wonderful American authors, and was surprised that so many authors that I loved lived and wrote in Concord—and all at the same time! In fact, one of my final papers for one class was all about how every English major that studied American literature had to eventually go and visit Concord. 

    My absolute favorite place to visit in Concord (and the main reason why I wanted to travel there) was to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott. I loved visiting the place where Alcott wrote LITTLE WOMEN. And now whenever I reread anything about the March sisters, I can’t help but think of Orchard House in Concord. Such a beautiful setting that feels like Jo March must be around the corner writing everything all down. 

    Orchard House

    My second favorite place to visit in Concord is Walden Pond. Yup. That Walden Pond. The one made famous by Henry David Thoreau and his book WALDEN. I loved going and hiking around the pond (not just looking at the little replica cabin that mimics Thoreau’s simple living quarters, though that was fun too). But to actually get away from the parking lot and to just feel the peacefulness of nature—it was a happy moment. 

    Another place that felt like I was stepping into a book was at the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. I studied so many Emerson essays (again, I was an English major) that I felt like going to his home was adding another layer to why Emerson wrote what he wrote. Then there is a trip to The Old Manse (where Emerson wrote his first draft of Nature and where Nathaniel Hawthorne—yes that Nathanial Hawthorne—lived). Plus there is also the idea that The Old Manse looks at the Old North Bridge, the bridge that was mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride." 

    Man—who knew there was so much literature to “visit” when planning a vacation to Concord, Massachusetts? Well, my English professors did, which is why they inspired me to actually plan a trip out to the East Coast—just so I could take in all the settings of so many books I love. 

    I have two more spots left—favorites vacations where I traveled to because of the books I have read. Yup, these two places were solely vacations planned based on beloved books. Keep reading to find out where they are!

  • read to travel

    As far as my favorite literary vacation spots so far I have talked about Hannibal, Missouri and Rome, Italy. This next one has EVEN MORE literary references than the other two destinations (if you can believe it). I mean, how could it not!?! Today I am talking about London, England, number four on my countdown of six favorite literary vacations. 

    4. London, England

    Tower of London

    The first time that I went to this city it was part of a college Literary Tour. And the fact that it was introduced as a major stop in literary history means that every time I go back I can’t help but think of all the great books that are set there. 

    Seriously, this one city has totally spoiled me for literature. One of the first stops my friends and I made was to go to see some signs of SHERLOCK HOLMES around Baker Street. Granted, we didn’t find the famous sleuth (or Benedict Cumberbatch—sigh!), but we did enjoy looking at London from the “perspective” of Holmes and Watson. 

    Also, while traipsing around London I happened to find the home of Charles Dickens. This literary mastermind set a lot of his novels in jolly old England—London in particular. And as I spent hours walking around (potentially getting a little lost once or twice…) I started getting hungry—not only for good spots to remind me of good books, but for actual food. “Please, sir, I want some more.” Thankfully, unlike OLIVER TWIST, I had plenty of options to choose from so I could keep wandering around town. 

    One magical place to go is to Kensington Gardens. There—after quite a bit of meandering—we were able to find the PETER PAN statue. Because this is where James Barrie wrote and perhaps was inspired to write the famous play. And with this fun statue of Peter, of course there is an invitation to celebrate the imagination of this masterpiece that has had such an impact around the world—and I can’t help but imagine that Wendy, John, Michael, or Tinkerbell might appear beside Peter as I walked around the garden. 

    Peter Pan

    And, who can go to London without going to the Globe Theater—the replica of all things William Shakespeare—who may justifiably be considered the master of all things literary! While at the Globe we saw JULIUS CAESAR (which helped me love my literary journey in Rome that I talked about last time). We got the cheap tickets, so we had to stand for the entire play. And we were out in the elements so when it started to drizzle rain/slush on us…it was a little uncomfortable; however, it was an experience that I will never forget! I felt like I could be in the 1600s listening to the Bard. I don’t think my love for Shakespeare has ever been the same. 

    Yowzer! London has so many literary greats! It is no wonder that this one city has hit my list of places I wanted to see and visit because of works I have read. And I haven’t even talked about Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Or HARRY POTTER—which has some scenes in London… Yeah, if you love reading, then you have to visit London on vacation. It is basically a must! 

    Joella Reading a book in a bookshop on vacation 1

    Keep reading to see what other vacations I thought were reading havens!

  • Read to Travel

    So here is the thing, I like to read AND I like to travel. And it is a sweet spot when both things happen at the same time (meaning, sometimes I pick where I travel based on a book I read or sometimes I read books based on places that I have traveled to or will travel to). If you love to read and love to travel, this series of posts is for you. I'll be sharing my top six destinations that hit the sweet spot of good books and great location, where the place has as much personality as the characters in the books. Granted, due to my being a little long-winded, it might take a few posts to get through all my favorites… 

    6. Hannibal, Missouri, USA

    I will confess, the first time that I went to Hannibal .…I didn’t choose to go. I was nine and my mother made the decision for a family vacation. So we went. But I liked it so much that I went two more times - that is saying something, right?

    Basically this is the literary travel spot for all things Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens). Think TOM SAWYER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Think of all the cave spelunking and riverboat rides. In Hannibal you can tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum Properties. I loved looking at the white picket fence and thinking about how Tom tricked everyone else into white-washing it for him. When I was in Hannibal (many years ago) I also toured around other museums and saw where “Becky Thatcher” would have “lived."

    8.6 tom sawyer statue

    There is something to be said for skipping rocks and having a picnic next to the mighty Mississippi River, the very river that Huck Finn and Jim sailed down on a raft. In fact, there are a lot of places in Hannibal where you can just sit and watch that river. And possibly contemplate all of those many big things that Mark Twain leads you to think about when reading Huckleberry Finn. 

    8.6 Mark Twain Cave with Joella

    But the highlight for this area is the Mark Twain Cave Complex. There you can explore where Becky and Tom got lost. And if you happen to have an older brother the way that I do—perhaps you might jump every now and again due to said older brother’s shenanigans. Seriously. There's nothing quite like going inside just after reading the scary chapters about Tom and Becky being lost in that same cave (the very one!) and then having your brother do his best to scare the heebeegeebees out of you. Literature definitely came alive for me in that moment!

    8.6 Mark Twain Cave

    And with festivals and theater performances giving nods to all things Mark Twain, this is a travel destination totally connected to all things literary. 

    Bonus: There is also a movie and a graphic novel adaptation of Tom Sawyer and not one but two different graphic novel adaptations for Huckleberry Finn. 

    By Mark Twain


    Tom Sawyer FilmTOM SAWYER


    By Margaret Hall


    By Mark Twain


    8.6 Huckleberry Finn RatliffTHE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    By Tom Ratliff


    8.6 Huckleberry Finn SilvermoonADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    By Crystal Silvermoon

    Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for other literary vacation destinations that I have loved!   
  • Read to Travel

    Perhaps you've read all five blog posts (number 6, number 5, number 4, number 3, number 2) we've already shared that talk about my love of reading to travel or traveling to read—basically literary vacations! I have talked about Hannibal, Rome, London, Concord, and Bath & Chawton. Today you get my ultimate vacation spot based on books I have read: Prince Edward Island (yeah, not just one city, the whole Canadian province)! 

    1. Prince Edward Island, Canada

    So, this is my all-time, most bookish trip that I took. I probably would never have gone to Prince Edward Island if it wasn’t for reading ANNE OF GREEN GABLES as a teenager. True story. However, PEI is not only the location of the beloved Anne books, but also many other L.M. Montgomery novels and short stories (and honestly the location is like a character in the story—you can’t totally understand Anne without understanding the place that she loves and lives in). 

    EMILY OF NEW MOON writes in PEI, PAT OF SILVER BUSH grows up in PEI, AND so many of the short stories that Maud wrote were based on the island.  In fact, one tour guide at one of the many places we visited said that out of Montgomery’s 20 books, 19 of them take place in her home province—even though she only lived there until she got married. (The only book that Maud wrote that doesn’t take place in PEI is THE BLUE CASTLE, though that is a brilliant book as well.)

    On the advice of someone who had been to PEI, when we first went to Cavendish (renamed Avonlea in the books), we went to the Cavendish Homestead and saw the land where L.M. Montgomery lived. Then we took a detour to the Cavendish Post Office; Maud was the assistant postmistress in Cavendish and secretly sent off her books there to be published.

    We then walked through the “Haunted Wood” and came out just under Maud’s uncle’s home, which Green Gables was based on. That was truly the perfect way to see Green Gables for the first time (especially since the other entrance leads you to the visitor’s gates and barns…). Walking through the wood and then suddenly seeing Green Gables on the hill just felt like I was in the books with Anne. There is no other way to describe it! If you want to feel like you are in Montgomery’s work, you must travel to PEI. 

    green gables picture

    Also, there is the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush (which also has the Lake of Shining Waters). This house was the inspiration for Pat of Silver Bush and is where Montgomery got married. Plus there are buggy rides that you can take—almost as if you were in the movie and Matthew was taking you out for the afternoon. Really, when Maud wrote her books, PEI was a main character and I couldn’t do justice to these books that I loved without going to the land where they were set. 

    And there you have it. My ultimate top choice for a vacation based on books. Besides the FANTASTIC seafood, pretty much everything that we did on PEI was because of books—so basically it was a sweet vacation.

    Granted, there are more travel plans ahead and more books with places as characters. So perhaps this list will continue to grow and change with each new passport stamp. I read to travel, I travel to read.

    Where would you go based on books? Or what good books have you read because of somewhere that you have traveled?

  • Read to Travel

    Perhaps you have read all the other five blog posts that talk about my love of reading to travel or traveling to read—basically literary vacations! I have talked about Hannibal, Rome, London, Concord, and Bath & Chawton. Today you get my ultimate vacation spot based on books I have read: Prince Edward Island (yeah, not just one city, the whole Canadian province)! 

    Prince Edward Island, Canada

    So, this is my all-time, most bookish trip that I took. I probably would never have gone to Prince Edward Island if it wasn’t for reading ANNE OF GREEN GABLES as a teenager. True story. However, PEI is not only the location of the beloved Anne books, but also many other L.M. Montgomery novels and short stories (and honestly the location is like a character in the story—you can’t totally understand Anne without understanding the place that she loves and lives in). 

    EMILY OF NEW MOONEMILY OF NEW MOON writes in PEI, Pat of Silver Bush grows up in PEI, plus so many of the short stories that Maud wrote were based on the island. (The only book that Maud wrote that doesn’t take place in PEI is BLUE CASTLE—though that is a brilliant book as well.) In fact, one tour guide at one of the many places we visited said that out of Montgomery’s 20 books, 19 of them take place in her home province—even though she only lived there until she got married. 

    On the advice of someone who had been to PEI, when we first went to Cavendish (renamed Avonlea in the books), we went to the Cavendish Homestead and saw the land where L.M. Montgomery lived. Then we took a detour to the Cavendish Post Office; Maud was the assistant postmistress in Cavendish and secretly sent off her books to be published. We walked through the “Haunted Wood” which came out just under Green Gables (Maud’s uncle’s home that Green Gables was based on). That was truly the perfect way to see Green Gables for the first time--especially since the other entrance leads you to the visitor’s gates and barns… Walking through the wood and then suddenly seeing Green Gables on the hill just felt like I was in the books with Anne. There is no other way to describe it! If you want to feel like you are in Montgomery’s work, you must travel to PEI. 

    green gables picture

    Also, there is the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush (which also has the Lake of Shining Waters). This house was the pattern for Pat of Silver Bush and is where Montgomery got married. Plus there are buggy rides that you can take—almost as if you were in the movie and Matthew was taking you out for the afternoon. Really, when Maud wrote her books, PEI was a main character and I couldn’t do justice to these books that I loved without going to the land where they were set. And there you have it. My ultimate top choice for a vacation based on books. Besides the FANTASTIC sea food, pretty much everything that we did on PEI was because of books—so basically it was a sweet vacation. Granted, there are more travel plans ahead and more books with places as characters. So perhaps this list will continue to grow and change with each new passport stamp.

    I read to travel, I travel to read. Where would you go based on books? Or what good books have you read because of somewhere that you have traveled?