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 Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads, Tween Reads

Books to inspire your young scientists!

This is an incredible year for children’s books! There’s something for everyone available or coming soon, with wonderful artwork and text that draws readers right in. This time around, I’m looking at some fun science books for readers – and caregivers will like them, too.

Izzy Gizmo, by Pip Jones/Illustrated by Sara Ogilve,
(March 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-68263-021-1
Recommended for readers 4-7

 

Izzy Gizmo is a curious little girl of color who loves to invent, tweak, and discover. Her inventions don’t always work, but she discovers that she has to put her frustrations aside when she rescues a crow with a broken wing. He wants her to help him fly again, and he’s willing to stick with her through trial and error, until she can get it right. I love the bright colors and chaotic art in this story; it lets readers know that creativity is often messy and wild; the story assures readers that mistakes are just opportunities to filter out what isn’t working and concentrate on what will work; and I love the story of endurance and perseverance. Izzy’s grandfather and her crow friend have faith in Izzy; she just has to find her faith in herself. The gray and white endpapers feature different gears and mechanical parts, letting readers know they’re going to put on their engineering hats to help Izzy out, and the art – a mix of pencil, ink, oil pastel, monoprint, and digital technique – create a busy background that provides a glimpse into the mind of a scientist. Originally published in the UK in 2011, Izzy’s just arrived here in the U.S. and her rhyming story would be a great addition to collections where Andrea Beaty’s Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Ada Twist, Scientist are popular.

 

Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See?, by Chris Ferrie,
(Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656180
Recommended for readers 3-6

 

Set to the cadence of the classic, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, scientist and dad Chris Ferrie introduces little readers to some of history’s greatest minds with Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See? There is a strong mix of disciplines and diversity represented here, with Einstein sharing space with Grace Hopper, Ahmed Zewail, George Washington Carver, Katherine Johnson, and more. It’s noted as a “scientific parody”, and it certainly is a fun book that will make everyone smile, but kids are introduced to names and ideas, and that’s just great. Starting off with the question, “Einstein, Einstein, Who Do You See?” and the response, “I see Marie Curie in her laboratory”, the story goes on, introducing scientists and their accomplishments, in the soothing rhyme style we’ve grown up hearing and enjoying. Chris Ferrie has given us Baby Science board books and a fun take on Goodnight, Moon with Goodnight, Lab; let’s hope he keeps finding new, fun ways to make science lovers out of our kids.

 

One Day a Dot: The Story of You, the Universe, and Everything, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb,
(Apr. 2018, First Second Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626722446
Recommended for readers 7-10

This one’s one of my standout favorites. Author Ian Lendler and illustrators Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb drill down the history of everything to one humble dot. From one dot’s excited burst of joy comes the Big Bang, bringing new dots together to form planets and, eventually, life. The dots are animated, dancing, playing, even running away from other dots that want to eat them! The artwork is bright with a retro feel and uses the dot theme as a focal point through the story, gently leading readers on a trip through time and space. It’s a simplified look at the formation of the universe, but works nicely for younger readers. Give this one to kids who like Stacy McAnulty’s Earth: My First 4.5 Billion Years, and Dominic Walliman’s Professor Astro Cat books, published by Nobrow.

 

Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet, by Elizabeth Suneby/Illustrated by Rebecca Green,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781771387200
Recommended for readers 7-10

The latest from Kids Can Press’ Citizen Kid imprint, Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea is a fictional story about a Bangladeshi boy named Iqbal, who comes with a clean, solar-powered cookstove for his science fair project. He sees his mother force to cook the family’s meals indoors during monsoon season, but the family has no stove: she cooks over an open fire, which produces smoke that makes breathing difficult, especially for his mother and baby sister. He learns about solar energy cooking, wins first place in the science fair, and introduces a sustainable and healthier way for families to prepare meals. The artwork illustrates everyday life in Bangladesh and communicates the closeness Iqbal shares with his family and his hard work to create a science fair project that accomplishes the dual purpose of getting him a good grade and helping his family. The story shows readers that kids can make a difference, and that healthier living doesn’t depend on expensive gadgets – a little research, and you can make the world a better place with tools right in front of you. The book includes more information on cookstoves, a glossary, and instructions for making a DIY solar cooker. Great for class projects and science fair ideas!

Audrey the Inventor, by Rachel Valentine/Illustrated by Katie Weymouth,
(May 2018), words & pictures, $17.95, ISBN: 9781910277584
Recommended for readers 4-7

Audrey could hang out with Izzy (first book) and Andrea Beaty’s gang. A wild-haired, redheaded little girl who uses measuring tape for ribbons, Audrey is a curious kid who wants to be an inventor – but she doesn’t know what to invent! She sets off on a host of different ideas, some involving her poor cat, Happy Cat, all of which end up in the “rework” pile. She’s ready to throw in the towel, but decides to give it one last try after getting some encouragement. Little touches, like featuring a graph paper background and visualizing Audrey’s thought process and her doodles, invite kids to share their own ways of working out ideas. The collage, watercolor, and pen artwork comes together to create a busy story about a busy mind. A fun add to creative collections.

These books offer a great way to introduce the scientific method, even for younger grades. Little Bins for Little Hands has a good article, with tips on using the scientific method – and including links to experiments – for preschoolers.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Little Sid – Meet the Buddha!

Little Sid, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Xantha Bouma, (Jan. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626726369

Recommended for readers 3-8

This adorably illustrated story of the Buddha’s childhood is both a nice introduction to Buddhism for younger readers, and a meaningful fable about valuing connections over possessions.

Little Sid is Siddhartha, a little prince who gets everything he could ever want, except for time with his parents. They’re always running off to some grand event or monarch duty, leaving Sid to be raised by an army of handlers who all fawn over him. He isn’t happy. He takes off to find the secret to happiness and meets a wise man who confuses him, a tiger who terrifies him, and a mouse who makes it all come together for him. When he comes back, he’s a changed kid, ready to put what he’s learned into practice: starting with his parents.

Xanthe Bouma’s artwork is adorable and bright, lively and bold. Sid’s face is filled with expression, whether he’s happily greeting readers on the opening page or reveling in the joy of a ripe strawberry. Ian Lendler’s text weaves a story of a child who has everything he could want, but wants only his parents’ time. It’s a story of mindfulness and gratitude, and that’s something every child should know and every family should embrace. My favorite lesson? That being happy isn’t permanent, but neither is being sad. It teaches kids that life comes in ebbs and flows, and to go with those ups and downs. A brief biography of Siddhartha Gautama closes out this volume.

Booktalk or display Little Sid with one of my favorite books, Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth; together, the two books present a starting point to discover different cultures and faiths, all while delivering solid messages about awareness and resilience. Talk about the religions that inspire these tales; introduce your readers to Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s a great way to make their worlds a little bigger.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Tween Reads

The Stratford Zoo brings Shakespeare to younger readers!

Stratford ZooThe Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, by Ian Lendler/illus. by Zack Giallongo (:01 First Second, Sept. 2014). $12.99, ISBN: 9781596439153

Recommended for ages 8-12

The Stratford Zoo looks your ordinary, everyday zoo – until the Zoo closes for business and the animals gather for some downtime. This particular evening, the Midnight Revue is putting on a play – Shakespeare’s Macbeth – with the lion, naturally, playing the part of the Dane King. What follows is an wildly funny graphic novel that offers younger readers the chance to enjoy the story of Macbeth, where Macbeth must eat the king, and where blood is replaced by ketchup (you can’t eat a king – or a host of people that stand in your way to the throne – without some kind of condiment, right?).

The story is just plain fun, with bits and pieces of Shakespeare thrown in for good effect. The play is presented, with an intermission when the zookeeper walks her rounds. There’s audience commentary and heckling. There are panels and splash pages, and the colors are bright and engaging. I loved this book, and can’t wait to get it on my shelves. It’s a great addition to any graphic novel collection, and for children’s service librarians like myself, a great way to expand our graphic novel sections. Using Shakespeare’s story, and including quotes and scenarios is perfect for teachers looking for a way to incorporate some fun into their Common Core ELA lesson plans.

I can’t wait to see what the Zoo manages for their next performance – but I’ll let you read to the end to find that one out.