Posted in Uncategorized

Moose’s Book Bus brings book love to you!

Moose’s Book Bus, by Inga Moore, (Nov. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217674

Ages 3-7

A wonderful love letter to libraries and book lovers everywhere, Moose’s Book Bus starts with Moose, who has run out of stories to tell his family. He heads to the library after none of his neighbors have stories available, and he discovers a wealth of books to bring to his family! The news about Moose’s storytimes spreads, and before Moose can say “Cinderella”, his house is simply stuffed with friends and neighbors, all waiting for his stories! Moose asks the librarian at the library for some advice, and the two work together to create a bookmobile! Moose fixes up an old bus, the Duck Librarian fills it with books, and Moose drives the bus to his neighborhood, where he also teaches his friends to read – and they teach other friends, until everyone is able to read and love books together. This is heartwarming book illustrates the power that stories have to bring us together. Inga Moore’s pencil, pastel, and wash illustrations are soft, and her animal cast of characters are a delight. Perfect for library storytimes, you may want to pair it with Inga Moore’s A House in the Woods (2011), the companion book to Moose’s Book Bus. Sepia endpapers have a wonderfully antique feel to them, showing the book bus parked in the woods, with excited animal friends racing toward it. Download a free activity kit to have ready to hand out at storytime.

 

Posted in picture books

Library Love: Lila Lou’s Little Library

Lila Lou’s Little Library : A Gift From the Heart, by Nikki Bergstresser/Illustrated by Sejung Kim, (Oct. 2021, Cardinal Rule Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781735345116
Ages 5-7
A little girl who loves to read has too many books for her home, so she creates a Little Free Library for her community! A story of book love, library love, and literacy activism, Lila Lou’s Little Library is perfect for class visits and book-about-books storytime. It’ll inspire kids and grownups alike to share their love of books with their neighbors. Back matter includes tips on creating and curating your own little library, and that’s one of the things I love most about this story: it’s not just about loving books, although that’s certainly at the heart of the story; it’s about the love of sharing – the community starts to get involved, contributing to the library with their own books – and the love of librarianship. Lila Lou is a little Reader’s Advisor, selecting just right books for everyone who asks her for a suggestion; she shows readers what librarians’ real talent is. We listen, and we share information that readers want and need. Adults, children, Lila Lou is ready to help them all. It’s a very sweet story about gentle, but firm, literacy advocacy. Colorful kid-friendly artwork is eye-catching, and the storytelling will inspire readers to look over their own piles of books and share them with their friends, their classrooms, and possibly, their communities. Lila Lou’s tree stump reminds me of the librarian in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who created a gorgeous Little Free Library from a hollowed-out tree in her yard, but there easier ways to share books with others. Talk about some of those ways, using the information at the end of the book, and the free, downloadable reader’s guide. Print out coloring pages to share, too!
I would love to see where Lila Lou goes next – maybe she’s got more book-related adventures to come?
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let’s get some #LibraryLove!

I am SO excited. I’m returning to my community library on Monday for the first time since I locked the doors on March 16, 2020, when New York went on “pause”. We’ve got two weeks of work to get our little home away from home back in shape (so many bins await unpacking), and then we reopen to our families on July 12th. It’s the day I’ve been waiting for and I am just so happy. So let’s celebrate some library love with two great books!

Stanley’s Library, by William Bee, (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682633137

Ages 3-7

It’s the Stanley book I’ve been waiting for! The hardest-working gerbil in town is back with Stanley’s Library. It’s going to be a busy day for Stanley, who arrives at work, loads up his bookmobile (they call it a “library van”) and head to the park for a day of truly public librarianship. He spots some friends and makes sure they get books he knows they would love, and then gets back to the library in order to set up for their big author event! The day is done, and it’s time for Stanley to go home, have supper, take his bath, and get to bed – with a good book. ‘Nite, Stanley!

The Stanley books are the best career books I can offer to my little kids (you have to love a multi-tasker!), and Stanley’s Library is so much fun. The endpapers show all the tools of the trade, including a date stamp, stamped library card, author event ticket, and bookmark. There are great details throughout the story, too, like the labeled shelves and the books on them: the Horror section includes books on Owls, Cats, and Snakes, all predators to gerbils; History stocks books like Famous Gerbils and More Famous Gerbils; Cheese gets its own very popular section, as we learn later on. Stanley exhibits fantastic readers advisory and collection development skills as he makes sure to give books to his friends that are in just in line with their interests, too; he gives Hattie, who’s working on her motorbike, a book on traveling twisty roads, and Little Woo gets a book on pirates, as he works with Shamus on his boat. The Stanley books are such fun and such easy reading; they’re a hit for your shelves.

 

Nia and the New Free Library, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Mark Pett, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452166865

Ages 5-8

Inspired by Stone Soup, this story hits on so many things: the idea that the library is always there, but no one uses it; that ideas people have about libraries aren’t always the reality, and my favorite, that libraries are built by communities, for communities. The Littletown Library has always been there. Until it’s not when a tornaldo carries it away. A young girl named Nia wants to rebuild the library, but – in a series of panels every librarian will identify with – hears a lot of talk as to why it’s not a priority: “What’s the point? No one uses libraries anymore”; “That costs money, and I can’t spare a dime”; and of course, “My son and I get everything we want online”. Taking matters into her own hands, Nia comes up with a very creative idea to get her community to come together and create a library – first, as a community, then, within a building. There are wonderful moments as Nia brings townspeople together to create their own stories or remember stories and parts of writing that inspired them; one gentleman recalls Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise; detectives and boat captains recall the works that they loved from childhood. The library reopening is a stirring statement on what we do: “everyone crowded into the library to admire what they had accomplished”. Children paint, read books, and write their own, new ones; grandparents learn to use computers; there’s a knitting class taking place.  In an author’s note, Ian Lendler remembers how his grandfather helped rally his own community to build the library he dreamed of a kid, saying, “That’s when I realized – a library is an expression of a town and all the poeple who live in it”.

An excellent book for storytime and class visits, and for just reminding people that we all have a stake in our libraries.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Never Show a T-Rex a Book! Or else…

Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande/Illustrated by Diane Ewen, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464159-8

Ages 3-7

In this adorable nod to cumulative favorites like Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! warns readers against letting their T-Rexes get hold of a book… because then they’ll want more, naturally! A little girl starts the story off, reading to her dinosaur toys, when her imagination takes her on a thrill ride: her T-Rex becomes real, and demands a trip to the library – and an all-night reading marathon that will result in a VERY clever dinosaur. Which could lead to the first dinosaur in government, the education of other dinosaurs, and a WORLD DINOSAUR TAKEOVER. Imagine? Giggle-worthy, with illustrations that show the power of books exploding all over the spreads, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! is all about imagination and embracing the fun of reading. We get frightened librarians and towering T-Rexes holding stacks of books (pshaw, I say; like we’ve never seen dinosaurs in the library before); dinos holding court in classrooms and in Parliament, and demanding luxuries like larger seats in the movie theatre! Get your dinosaur toys out and let them read along with you as you take your Kiddos on this cartoonish, wild, book-loving adventure.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…

Pirate Nell’s Tale to Tell: A Storybook Adventure, by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty, (Sept. 2020, Sourcebooks), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1492698678

Ages 4-7

This rhyming tale of literacy on the high seas stars an all-canine cast. Nell, a younger pup, is so excited to join a pirate crew, but Captain Gnash scoffs at her bookishness and saves the ickiest tasks for her to do. A treasure map in a bottle shows up one night, but Captain Gnash manages to get himself and his crew into big trouble until Nell, and her Pirate’s Almanac, save the day! They finally make it to the island and discover the best treasure of all. Smart and light, this upbeat tale of books and how handy a little extra knowledge can be is great for library visits. Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty always manage to create the best stories about book lovers: they also wrote The Snatchabook and The Storybook Knight; both wonderfully woven rhyming tales of books and how they make things better. The colorful acrylic artwork will attract all readers; who doesn’t love a rollicking pirate story with sea monsters and treasure? Endpapers show off a cross-section of a pirate ship before and after the plunder. See if kids can spot the differences! Pair with Ronan the Librarian for the ultimate class visit storytime. Visit Helen Docherty’s website for downloadable goodies including masks and coloring sheets!

 

Daniela and the Pirate Girls, by Susana Isern/Illustrated by Gómez, Translated by Laura Victoria Fielden, (Aug. 2020, NubeOcho), $16.95, ISBN: 978-84-17673-27-7

Ages 5-8

The second book to star Daniela the Pirate, Daniela and her crew spend a good part of this new adventure aboard their pirate ship, the Black Croc, tracking down a group of pirates called The Fearless Piranhas. They keep showing up to rescue sea folk just before the Black Croc arrives, and the crew is starting to get worried: what if they beat the Croc to the best treasure, too? Just as the Black Croc happens upon the Fearless Piranhas ship, they both get caught up in a dangerous storm: luckily, Daniela knows a friend who can help everyone out! The two crews finally meet and decide that teamwork is the best way to work! Upbeat and positive, this pirate story is all about sharing and teamwork, with the acknowledgement that sometimes, jealousy and competition can get in the way of how we perceive others. Gómez always uses bright, cheerful colors in her artwork; here, vibrant landscapes and pirates stand out against the light blue sea and sky, really giving the characters center stage. Originally published in Spanish, this English translation will appeal to pirate fans while teaching a lesson in kindness.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The epic tale of Ronan the Librarian

Ronan the Librarian, by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie/Illustrated by Victoria Maderna, (Apr. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250189219

Ages 3-7

To truly enjoy this writeup, please click here to enjoy The Anvil of Crom from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, courtesy of Spotify and CimmercianRecords.com.

The mighty Ronan was a barbarian invader, raider, and trader. He led his people and pillaged the best jewelry, precious metals, weapons, you name it. If you wanted to trade for it, Ronan had it. But when one of Ronan’s raids turned up a chest  of books, he was baffled. Barbarians don’t read, right? What was he supposed to do with these things? No one else wanted them either! Until… well, one night he figured reading a sentence won’t hurt. Maybe a paragraph. A page? Every reader worth their salt knows what happens next: a true disregard of bedtime; Ronan becomes a Reader and seeks out books on all of his pillages from then on. And again, like any true book fan… his collection threatens to overwhelm him. After all, no one else wants the books: Barbarians don’t read! So Ronan builds a library, and decides to entice his fellow barbarians into reading. Like any bookworm knows, one of the best parts about loving books is sharing them with friends! This hilarious, wonderful story about barbarians and books is perfect storytime reading (I’ve got one coming up myself): it’s got adventure, barbarians, and books! Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie create a story that book lovers will relate to, and give a wink, nudge, come to the Book Side for those kids who don’t think they’re readers… yet.

Victoria Maderna’s artwork is cartoony fun, with so many little moments to love: the Viking ship toppling over with books (I feel seen); Ronan riding into battle, axe held high in one hand, book wide open in his other hand; Ronan curled up with a cup of tea amidst his towering pile of books (so precarious!), the swirling, dreamlike story of Odin coming to life as it leaps from a book Ronan reads out loud to his fellow barbarians, and – one of my favorite pieces in the whole story – the bulletin board Ronan puts up in his library, with notes like “Keep Out: This Goat” (sharp-eyed viewers will notice the goat snacking on some books, a few spreads earlier), “Closed During Raids”, and a cautionary “Swords Make Terrible Bookmarks”. Clearly, library signage hasn’t seen the need to evolve much.

I’m gushing with love for Ronan the Librarian because it’s just too much fun and it’s all about discovering the joy of books and reading. Insta-buy for your collections if you don’t already have it. Consider it an investment in your class visits for life. Make sure to visit the authors’ website, and find activities, guides, and more information about their books!

Posted in Conferences & Events

The Tri-State Book Buzz: Coffee, Breakfast, and Books

I attended the Tri-State Book Buzz this morning, where over 20 publishers invited librarians and educators for a morning of breakfast and kidlit, from board books to YA. There are some fantastic books to come! Let’s take a look at some of the big reveals first:

Graphic Novels

The big news here is that Random House is starting their own dedicated graphic novel imprint, Random House Graphic, headed up by Publishing Director Gina Gagliano, who is just a great person, who genuinely adores graphic novels, and wants kids to love them, too. RH Graphic is dedicated to putting a graphic novel on every readers’ shelf; meaning, they’re going to publish graphic novels for all ages and interests. The debut list looks good, with graphic novels for intermediate readers, middle graders, and teens all lined up and ready to go in the near year: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger is about two bug friends, aimed at intermediate readers, and fans of Narwhal and Jelly; The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski and Thom Pico and Karensac’s Aster and the Accidental Magic are geared for middle graders and star strong female characters, and Witchlight is a YA graphic novel by Jessi Zabarsky, about two women traveling and growing together. These are the first four books in 2020, with 8 more to come later in the year.

 

GRAPHIX WEEK! Scholastic has a week of graphic novels programming coming up in December (the 9th-13th) for their TeachGraphixWeek celebration. There’s going to be classroom activities, Twitter chats, and a live Facebook broadcast with Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, and more, which assures that my Corona Kids will be losing their minds. For now, there’s a link to sign up for more information; the sites from previous Graphix Week haven’t been updated for this year’s content just yet.

Speaking of Graphix, the big news is that Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived books are getting the Graphix treatment! The first two books release in February (I Survived the Titanic) and June (I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916), and this will surely send the kids into a frenzy. I found out from Ms. Tarshis herself a couple of weeks ago, when one of my Corona Kids and I were wondering why this series hadn’t gotten the graphic novel treatment yet; we Tweeted at the author, who responded, lightning-fast, with a copy of the Titanic cover, causing my Corona Kid and I to dance with joy. (Side note: Tweet your authors! They are amazing people and the kids love to be acknowledged!)

Graphix is also taking on the Geronimo Stilton graphic novels, with the first one, The Sewer Rat Stink, coming in May and written by Origami Yoda writer (and HUGE Stilton fan) Tom Angleberger! (The Stilton graphic novels have been, up until now, published by Papercutz).

For the Shannon Hale/Raina Telgemeier readers, Graphix has a realistic fiction story, Nat Enough, by Maria Scrivan, coming in April. Nat is a sixth grader who feels like she isn’t cool enough for her best friend, and tries to change, but will figure out, along the way, that she’s just fine as is.

 

Macmillan (shout-out to First Second!) has some good graphic novels, too. I’m interested in Go With the Flow, a middle grade novel about body positivity, resistance, and feminism when a group of girls push back when their school invests more money in their (male) athletes’ comfort than in restocking menstrual products in their school. Breaking the menstrual taboo for middle grade is so important, especially when so many middle and high school bathrooms are sorely lacking in feminine hygiene product availability (don’t get me started on this). I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Romper has a good article and sneak peek for you.

Also coming from Macmillan/First Second: John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators (my son has nicked my BookExpo copy; if I can get it back, you’ll get a review from both of us), the first in a new series, coming in February.

 

Finally, Amulet, the children’s publishing imprint for Abrams, has a new Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tale! Major Impossible is the ninth book in the series and tells the story of John Wesley Powell, a one-armed geologist who explored the grand canyon.

Picture Books

There are TOO many picture books to shout out individually, so I’ll put up a couple of highlights. Let’s just say that end of 2019/beginning of 2020 is going to be a very good year.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton, whose Youngest Marcher and Mary Had a Little Glam are some of my recent favorites, is coming out with Just Like Me, “an ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between”. Sounds like storytime magic happening to me!

Picture Book Biographies

Aretha Franklin is getting a picture book biography treatment from Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman. Bloomsbury is publishing A Voice Named Aretha in January 2020. Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116, is also getting a picture book biography; Random House Children’s Books is publishing The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Lorrain Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, in January; Disney/Hyperion has Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Eric Velasquez, coming in February. Sourcebooks has a picture book biography of Jennifer Keelan, the young activist who participated in The Capitol Crawl in 1990 at the age of 8 to demand passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy, climbed out of her wheelchair and up the steps of the Capitol. Annette Bay Pimentel authors, Ali Haider illustrates, and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins writes the forward.

Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers, by Matthew Cordell, debuts in May from Holiday House, created by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell. It’s the only authorized picture book biography on Fred Rogers, and I can’t wait to see it. If you haven’t read A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers, illustrated by Luke Flowers (from Quirk Books), please get a copy on your shelves. Introduce our kids to Mister Rogers; we need him back.

Little Bee’s Grandpa Grumps is an adorable multi-generational story about a little girl and her grumpy grandpa who comes to visit from China. The two bond over cooking, and there’s a recipe at the end. The art is Pixar-inspired, and absolutely adorable. Grandpa Grumps, by Katrina Moore, with art by Xindi Yang, pubs in April.

 

Disney Book Group has Love, Sophia on the Moon, a book I think I’ll have to buy my niece. Sophia writes a letter to her mother, telling her she’s run away to the moon., where there are no time-outs and early bedtimes. Mom responds with a sense of humor. Who hasn’t wanted to run away to the moon? Heck, I think about it even now.

 

Holiday House is also publishing In My Garden; originally written in 1962 by Charlotte Zolotow and reimagined by Philip Stead. It’s a lovely, intergenerational story about a child and older adult who spend time in a beautiful garden as the seasons pass.

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, by Supriya Kelkar and illustrated by Alea Marley, is already out, and is a beautifully illustrated book about an Indian American boy, a practicing Sikh, who matches his patka – his head covering – to his emotions and occasions. I haven’t seen this one yet, so I’ll be requesting it and reading it ASAP.

 

Rainbow Fish author Marcus Pfister has a new book out! Who Stole the Hazelnuts? starts off with a terrifying scream when Squirrel discovers that someone has stolen his hazelnuts! The art on this is hilarious, and Squirrel’s face is my entire mood on some days. I mean, honestly. Tell me you can’t relate:

 

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is the beautifully illustrated and narrated story of the Standing Rock Pipeline protest, from a Native American child’s perspective. Due out in March, this is a book I’m going to make sure we have on our shelves.

 

Look at this adorable book! Oliver the Curious Owl is a young owl who wants to know all the big questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? He decides to go on his own adventure to see if he can learn some answers to his questions. I’m already planning owl storytimes for this book by Chad Otis. The book won’t be out until August 2020. I can wait. I can wait. I won’t be patient about it, but I can wait.

 

STEM

Picture books, nonfiction books, there are all sorts of ways to work STEM/STEAM into kids books, and there are some really good ones coming.

Chris Ferrie, my favorite kidlit science guru, has My First 100 Science Words, introducing the littlest readers to awesome science words like food chain, fluorescence, and cell. Illustrated by Lindsay Dale Scott, it’s the cutest little science book I’ve ever seen. (Until, let’s be honest, his next book.)

 

Charlesbridge has a great Winter/Spring line, with loads of STEM/STEAM books in the works. Mario and the Hole in the Sky is about Mexican-American scientist and Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. Publishing simultaneously in English in Spanish, by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Teresa Martinez, Mario publishes in less than a month: you can get it in November. Earth Hour, by Nanette Heffernan and illustrated by Bao Luu, invites kids to take part in Earth Hour, where communities all over the world are encouraged to turn off non-essential electricity for one hour. Earth Hour is publishing in January, with activities and ideas for kids all over the world; there’s more than enough time to prepare Earth Hour activities for March, when Earth Hour happens. You’re Invited to a Moth Ball is a collaboration with scientist Loree Griffin Burns and photographer Ellen Harasimowicz; it’s a “nighttime insect celebration” with advice on how kids can throw their own Moth Ball. Sterling is releasing The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer, by Marcie Wessels and illustrated by Beatriz Castro, in March.

Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann have Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera coming in April from Holiday House, and the artwork is just breathtaking. It’s the story of a honeybee’s journey through life, and the detail is just wonderful.

 

Sterling has three adorable STEM/STEAM stories coming soon: When Grandpa Gives You A Toolbox (March 2020), by Jamie L.B. Deenihan and illustrated by Lorraine Rocha; where a young boy wants storage for his dolls, receives a toolbox from his grandfather, and overcomes his disappointment when he discovers that he can use the toolbox to make a storage box by himself. Invent-a-Pet (May 2020), by Vicky Fang and illustrated Tidawan Thaipinnarong, a a STEM and coding story about a girl who decides that the best pet you can have is the one you make on your own. 

 

There were SO MANY BOOKS. This is just a quick rundown of some of the picture books and graphic novels to come. Up next, middle grade and YA.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Go on a Big Book Adventure with two friends!

The Big Book Adventure, by Emily Ford/Illustrated by Tim Warnes, (Sept. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-378-0

Ages 3-7

A pig and a fox excitedly tell each other about their reading adventures, having spent their day at a Mad Tea Party, swimming with mermaids, running from Big Bad Wolves, and more! The rhyming story communicates the transformative power of reading by placing the characters – and readers – into the middle of beloved fairy tales and exciting new adventures, including a spaceship voyage and a dragon ride. The two friends decide to share books and exchange adventures, their favorite new and old literary friends surrounding them.

The artwork is sweet and whimsical, using soft colors for the main characters and changing palettes to fit each story: bold, vibrant colors for a science fiction story; classic Alice in Wonderland artwork for the tea party; muted blues and greens for a mermaid swim. The endpapers continue the story, with the front endpapers showing Piggy sitting on a tree branch, reading; a library-like “book club” meeting place at the base of a tree, where Foxy leaves, with a wagon holding books. Membership cards for the “Maple Leaf Book Club” show Foxy and Piggy’s credentials. The back endpaper shows different literary characters – and the Maple Leaf Book Club’s owl mascot – reading.

This one is great for a library read-aloud, and a class visit storytime. I’d pair this with Nibbles the Book Monster for more fairy tale fun.

Posted in Conferences & Events

BookExpo 2019: That’s a wrap!

BookExpo is my Super Bowl. Every year, I look forward to it: I print out dozens of pages of ARC giveaways and author/illustrator signings, and make sure to wear my comfiest Doc Martens to hit the Javits Center.

The festivities started off with the Library Reads author dinner – this one was for adult books (as in grownup books), and the list of authors was amazing: literary powerhouses Colson Whitehead and Jacqueline Woodson, TV writer and producer Gary Janetti (shoutout to my fellow Vicious fans out there!), Annalee Newitz, founder of one of my favorite SFF sites, i09, E.R. Ramzipoor, whose novel, The Ventriloquists, has shot to the top of my TBR, and Nefertiti Austin, who blew me away just reading the summary of her new book, Motherhood So White.

So my TBR continues to grow…

Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America, by Nefertiti Austin

Do You Mind if I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me), by Gary Janetti

The Future of Another Timeline, by Annalee Newitz

The Ventriloquists, by E.R. Ramzipoor

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson

 

I was Instagramming and Tweeting from BookExpo, so if you want to see all of the pics, that’s where to go. Some highlights here:

 NOS4A2 creeping the bejesus out of me as I walked into Javits

The Javits Center welcoming all book lovers and geeks home

 

Meeting Dav Pilkey and telling him how much  my kiddo loves Dog Man, plus getting a signed Dog Man strip for said kiddo.

 

 Dog Man, Cat Kid, and enough Petes to make for a groovy storytime!

 

More to come when I’ve had a chance to start wandering through my BookExpo goodness and start blogging it!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Book Tree: Books as resistance!

The Book Tree, by Paul Czajak/Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh, (Sept. 2018, Barefoot Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781782854050

Ages 4-8

A boy named Arlo gets so wrapped up in his book that he doesn’t catch it in time when it slips, falls, and thumps the mayor on the head, prompting the official to tear up all the books, telling the people that “I will tell you what you need to know”. Luckily, a single page manages to float away and plant itself in the earth, where it will eventually grow; in the meantime, though, life is pretty awful without books: schools have nothing to teach; actors have nothing to act; and story time becomes nap time, because there’s nothing to read. Arlo begins making up his own stories, which feed the fledgling book plant, so Arlo writes and reads to the plant until it grows into a fantastic book tree, yielding ripe new stories, which Arlo harvests and shares with the town, which blossoms, once again, thanks to the fresh infusion of knowledge. Even the mayor ultimately discovers the joy to be found in a book.

Talk about a timely story. With an autocrat who’s afraid of books (“Books are dangerous! I don’t trust them. They act like seeds, which grow into ideas, and ideas turn into questions.”) and tries to control the flow of knowledge, reading becomes the ultimate act of resistance. The Book Tree also illustrates a very gloomy life without stories: no storytimes; no theatres; no new learning. Taking away the written word takes away a culture, a history, a civilization – why else are libraries and archives deliberately targeted during times of war?

Paul Czajak also shows how quickly people can lose interest in reading if it isn’t nurtured: Arlo reads his original stories out loud to an ignorant populace. Thanks to Arlo’s determination, the buried page hears him and thrives; he nurtures the love of reading, the new ideas feeding the plant, until it blossoms – and finally, boredom brings readers back to the tree, where Arlo hands out more books, sparking the public’s interest again. The Book Tree eloquently captures society today, making it a cautionary tale as much as it’s an inspirational one. Rashin Kheiriyeh’s oil paint and collage artwork gives a lovely crispness to the work, and brings the books to life by making them stand out against the page. Arlo, with his little beret and blue hair, is a little counterculture activist for a new group of readers. Her collage and drawn artwork present a fantastic contrast, really letting the stories yet to be told flow from books and Arlo’s imagination. I particularly love the dragon emerging from a book in her tree, seeming to joyfully respond to Arlo’s narrative.

 

Paul Czajak’s Monster books have been a favorite on my library shelves for a couple of years; I’m looking forward to seeing the kids enjoy The Book Tree. Add this one to your activist collections, and make sure to stick this one on your Banned Books Week storytime for next year.