Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Indie author/publisher spotlight!

It’s time for another independent author/publisher spotlight!

Ms. Flygirl and Sky Daisy, by Miho Madarame, (Sept. 2020, Independently Published), $7.99, ISBN: 979-8684124501

Ages 6-8

The first in a series, Ms. Flygirl and Sky Daisy is a collection of six short stories about a widow named Ms. Flygirl who takes to the skies in her yellow helicopter, Sky Daisy, where she has all sorts of adventures. She saves a tree, eats a lot of sweets, does a fox’s laundry, and more. Each story begins with a colorful illustration, and the stories are told in short sentences. Kids will get a kick out of the situations Ms. Flygirl finds herself in. A cute first outing.

 

Adventures with Divot & Swish in Costa Rica: The Superpower of Courage, by Beth Brown, PhD/Illustrations by Charlotte Strickland, (Jan. 2021, Divot & Swish Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781735170008

Ages 5-7

This adorable outing is also the first in a proposed new series, starring Divot – a golf ball with a little tuft of grass around their middle – and Swish, a net with a basketball for a head. In this first book, the friends head to Costa Rica for surfing lessons with Sammy the Surfer, who teaches them the mechanics of surfing, and the courage to face their fears of not being perfect on their first outing. The rhyming story teaches readers about overcoming fears and embracing new challenges: “It’s important to know / That you can do it afraid / If you never had tried / On shore, you’d then stayed”. The Costa Rican countryside is host to this story, but really only serves as a backdrop. I’d love to see future Divot and Swish adventures have some fun facts about their locations pop up at the end of the story, giving kids a little more information about their literary friends’ globe-trotting.

Nat Geo Kids has some fun facts about Costa Rica, as does Kids World Travel Guide. Lonely Planet has some fun suggestions for traveling with kids in Costa Rica, which you can use as a jumping-off point for some armchair travel programs. Visit Divot & Swish’s website to sign up for updates!

Posted in Conferences & Events, Librarianing, professional development

Signal Boost: Submit a Proposal to Host Jason Reynolds in Spring 2022

Today’s a big news day, huh? Just on the heels of my post about the Kids’ Book Awards Finalists, Every Child a Reader announced that not only is Jason Reynolds extending his term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for an additional year, but that they are accepting proposal submissions from schools interesting in hosting an event with Mr. Reynolds! Events are likely to be held in April/May 2022, as Mr. Reynolds will be holding in-person events. The press release is here and you can read full details on the Every Child a Reader website.

If you’re not a school library, please consider getting in touch with schools nearby and collaborate with them on submitting a proposal. Other criteria, from Every Child a Reader, are as follows:

  • Audience for events should be in the 5th-12th grade range.
  • The location should have a system in place for how they will select two student interviewees in advance of the event.
  • Jason’s goal for the Ambassadorship is to visit small, underserved communities that don’t often have the opportunity to host authors.
  • Events must be private/available to students only.
  • Please complete this google form with your event proposal no later than December 1, 2021.

Good luck!

Posted in awards, Cybils

It’s that time of year again… The CYBILS are back!

Yup, it’s that time of year again, my friends… get your nominations in order, because the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers) are gearing up to start taking nominations again. Have a bunch of books but can only nominate one per category? Add your choices to the CYBILS Padlet, to help other folx out if they’re stuck on a category.

The CYBILS have been great to me over the last several years. I discovered the site when I was still in library school, and it was an exciting chance to get involved with an awards committee. Over the years, I’ve been a Round One judge (READ ALL THE BOOKS!) and a Round Two judge (read the finalists, vote on the winner) for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, and now, Graphic Novels. It helps keep my Readers Advisory skills sharp, keeps my Collection Development radar strong, and I meet all sorts of fun new friends who l get to talk books with.

All that said, here are the panelists and judges and the categories for this year. Look through your GoodReads and reading journals, get your nominations ready, and visit the Padlet to contribute your suggestions!

YA Speculative Fiction

YA Fiction

High School Nonfiction

Graphic Novels (one category; we will choose finalists for YA, Elementary, and Middle Grade)

Poetry

Middle Grade Fiction

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction

Easy Reader/Early Chapter Books

Fiction Picture Books

 

Give some love to the panelists and judges, follow them on social media, and cheer us on as we get ready to read!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Children’s Book Council announces Kids’ Book Choice Awards Finalists

I apologize for the uneven posting schedule these days. I’m trying to get back on a more regular schedule again – trust me, it isn’t for lack of books – and get back into a routine overall. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Okay, now for the good stuff! The Children’s Book Council announced their Kids’ Book Choice Awards finalists today! This is a great list for Readers Advisory and Collection Development, because it’s chosen by kids and has 15 great categories. Here, you’ll find categories like Favorite Book Cover; Favorite Illustrated Character; Best Book of Facts, and Best Books of the Year, broken out by grades, so every group gets their say. You can find the list of finalists, by category, here.

Readers – kids and teens – can vote at EveryChildaReader.net/vote. Grownups – librarians, educators, parents, caregivers – can vote for the kids in their care, or collect votes from a group (your classes, reading groups, groups of kids at your library) and submit them into a group ballot. Voting is open from now until November 14 and this year’s winners will be announced in early December.

If you haven’t visited the Children’s Book Council site before, I really urge you to click over. There are great reading lists and reader resources promoting diverse and inclusive reading to be found. The companion site, Every Child a Reader, is the place to go to find out about the Kids’ Book Choice Awards, Children’s Book Week, Get Caught Reading, and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (this year, it’s Jason Reynolds!). Plus, there printable bookmarks, coloring sheets, challenges, and more!

About the Kids’ Book Choice Awards
The Kids’ Book Choice Awards (previously the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards) are the only national book awards voted on solely by kids and teens. Launched in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the awards provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the books being written for them. The 2021 program relaunch includes a new name, logo, and categories with finalists selected through nationwide long list voting.
Posted in picture books

Louder, for the people in the back: When We Say Black Lives Matter

When We Say Black Lives Matter, by Maxine Beneba Clarke, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536222388

Ages 5-9

There’s been a lot of histrionics over the Black Lives Matter movement and meaning. Some folx will counter with the dreaded “all lives matter” response, and some will panic and try to accuse BLM of being terrorists. Certain school districts have gone so far as to attempting banning books that show positive portrayals of people of color. Award-winning writer and slam poet champion Maxine Beneba Clarke takes up the charge with her picture book in verse, When We Say Black Lives Matter; it’s a quiet, inspirational, powerful talk between caregiver and child, explaining the need for understanding and recognition. Loving words, like “little one”, “little love”, and “darling” lead into the many ways we can share the message: calling out Black Lives Matter; singing, screaming, sobbing, even laughing the words, and what they communicate: “When we whisper / Black Lives Matter, / we’re remembering the past. / All the terrible things / that were said and done, / we’re saying they trouble our hearts”. Each verse examines the Black Lives Matter message and what it means, throughout history, to this moment. Watercolor pencil and collage artwork inspires introspection and joy; colorful endpapers show demonstrators holding signs calling for “Love” and “Black Lives Matter”. The book celebrates Black Lives and encourages you to celebrate them, too. An essential book for all library shelves, whether they’re in your library, your classroom, or your home.

When We Say Black Lives Matter has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Armchair Traveling? Take Australian Baby Animals with you!

Australian Baby Animals, by Frané Lessac, (Aug. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215274

Ages 2-5

Animal lovers are going to flip for this adorable book full of Australian baby animals and their parents. Fun facts run throughout the book, grouping animals together by their baby names (kangaroo, wombat, possum, koala, and Tasmanian devil babies are all called “joeys”‘) and how they interact with their parents. A sea dragon dad carries fry eggs (baby sea dragons!) on their tails until they hatch and drift away; echidna puggles (one of the cutest baby animal names ever) don’t have any spines, and flying fox pups get all the cuddles when  mom wraps her wings around them like a blanket. Bold fonts, fluid text that moves around the artwork, and colorful gouache artwork will delight readers. Spare text is informational and fits in well for an animal storytime.

Pair this with Frané Lessac’s 2018 abcedary, A is for Australian Mammals, for a unit on Australia, and check out this virtual field trip to the Australia Zoo, courtesy of Teach or Travel on TeachersPayTeachers.com.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books

The weight of a moment: Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More, by Johanna Schaible, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Studio), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536222135

Ages 5-9

Collage artist Johanna Schaible’s debut picture book weighs time in terms of the universe and our place in it. Beginning with the formation of our world, the first half of the book catalogs time, inviting readers to consider all that has happened; the second half invites readers to consider their place in time, asking them thought-provoking questions about their future. As readers move through time, the pages decrease in size, then increase as they move through the present into the future. The collage artwork is breathtaking, spanning eons of time: volcanoes erupting in the earth’s formation; Pteranodons soaring across a prehistoric sky; a steamship traversing an ocean.  It’s a wonderful book that plays with perspective and thought on large and small moments, with the big stuff: the formation of the planet, the construction of the pyramids, hopes for the future, laid out on larger pages; progressively smaller moments fit into smaller pages. It’s a wonderful visual explanation for small moment writing, and encouraging introspection.

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books

The fascinating is often right in front of you: The Collectors

The Collectors, by Alice Feegan, (May 2021, Kids Can Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781525302046

Ages 4-8

Two friends go on a nature expedition to find the perfect piece to complete their collection, only to discover a most outstanding wonder right outside their window in this STEM-inspired story. Alice and Winslow are two exploring friends who have their treasures on display in a magnificent treehouse, but they need one final piece to complete it. They go on an expedition where they discover amazing things, from a giant crystal to a buried T-Rex skull, but each new discovery is out of reach for one reason or other. When their last discovery – a very cranky bear! – sends them running back to their treehouse, they look over the accomplishments of the day and celebrate what they were able to achieve; an exciting noise outside draws their attention and reveals the most exciting discovery of all, right outside their window. The book has a great message about tenacity, discovery, and friendship. Budding naturalists and researchers will appreciate the collaboration and teamwork the girls exhibit, and the fact that they plan, journal, and catalog their findings. Alice Feagan’s cut paper collage illustrations add depth, encouraging the reader’s attention and capturing the varyious textures of different landscapes, like gritty stalagmites and stalactites to rough trees. The endpapers show off Alice and Winslow’s cabinet of curiosities.

The Collectors is great readaloud for STEM and science classes. Encourage kids to make their own nature journals and observe their own surroundings. Ask kids what they like to collect – my son has a rock collection with interesting-shaped rocks and pebbles that he’s kept for years – and if they have a special place to show them off.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Fearless: Daphne Caruana Galizia’s story

Fearless: The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Defender of Free Speech, by Gattaldo, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536219180

Ages 7-10

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who exposed corruption at all levels of government and organized crime, gets her moment in this powerful picture book biography by one of her close friends, award-winning creative director and illustrator Gattaldo. Fearless introduces readers to Caruana Gallizia, whose love of books inspired her to think for herself and the courage to speak out through protest. The story follows her career in journalism, depicting her as a warrior fighting a many-headed hydra of corruption; her headlines proving that the pen is mightier than the sword. Gattaldo uses soft mixed media illustration to create powerful images: Daphne, in colorful clothing, clutching a fountain pen, stands out in a dreamlike sea, illustrating her determination to stand out among those too fearful to speak up. Later, she stands proudly among a group of protestors inspired by her voice and her work. Endpapers feature bay laurels; symbols of strength and victory, and known as “daphne” in ancient Greece. An author’s note includes photos of Caruana Galizia and discusses her assassination, with a touching note about the author’s friendship with her.

Strong words about a strong figure who wouldn’t be silenced, this is a necessity for your biography shelves. You can view Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Running Commentary blog here, where she pulled no punches with her commentary. You can read about her death here, and can follow the latest news on bringing her murderer(s) to justice here.

Posted in Conferences & Events

The Library of Congress National Book Festival starts THIS FRIDAY!

The Library of Congress’s National Book Festival starts in two days! Are you ready? This year, the LOC invited blog subscribers to be Festival Ambassadors, so here I am, talking to you, about attending.

What’s good this year, you ask? SO MUCH, I answer. The expanded Festival has videos on demand, author conversations in real time, and live Q&A sessions. There’s a new NPR podcast series, live virtual events with the Washington Post, and a PBS special hosted by LeVar Burton (with Librarian of Congress rock star Carla Hayden)! Featured authors this year? How do Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Angie Thomas, Michael J. Fox, Jason Reynolds, Martha Wells sound for a start?

I can’t wait for the Spider-Man Origin Story in Art and Comic Books, happening online on 9/23 and the live Q&A with The Magic Fish author and illustrator, Trung Le Nguyen on the 25th. Derrick Barnes is going to be talking about I Am Every Good Thing, and Dan Gutman will be chatting about Houdini and Me on the 26th. There’s something for everyone over the next 10 days!

Check out the Schedule At A Glance right here, and print out a copy of this little game to play online with the LOC and your friends.

 

 

Handy-dandy links to bookmark and follow:

National Book Festival Website: loc.gov/bookfest

National Book Festival blog: https://blogs.loc.gov/national-book-festival/

Library of Congress Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/librarycongress/

Library of Congress Twitter: https://twitter.com/librarycongress

Events at the Library of Congress Twitter: https://twitter.com/events_loc

Carla Hayden’s Librarian of Congress Twitter: https://twitter.com/libnofcongress

Library of Congress Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/libraryofcongress

Library of Congress on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/loc

Start planning!