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

Dear Librarian: A moving memoir

Dear Librarian, by Lydia M. Sigwarth/Illustrated by Romina Galotta, (June 2021, Farrar, Straus, Giroux), $18.99, ISBN: 9780374313906

Ages 4-8

Librarian Lydia M. Sigwarth’s picture book memoir was inspired by Ira Glass’s public radio show, This American Life. At the age of 5, Lydia’s family moved from Colorado to Iowa. WIthout a home of their own, Lydia, her six siblings, and parents stayed at relatives’ homes, but had no place of their own – until Lydia’s mother took her to the library, where she found a Library Home in the stories, the programs, and in the librarian, who always had time for a hug, to read a book with Lydia, and make her feel safe. Inspired to become a librarian thanks to “her” librarian, Lydia’s experiences illustrate both the library as emotional home for those who may not have anywhere to go; the emotional work of the librarian, and the love so many of us have for what we do. Romina Galotta’s illustrations capture the magic hidden in the ordinary; we see young Lydia walk into the library for the first time, flowers blooming out of shelves and sprouting up from book pages, just waiting for her. The warm atmosphere of the children’s room will bring a smile to any library lover’s face; I ached, missing my library even more, seeing the puppet show theatre and toy bins lining the floor of Lydia’s childhood library. Most of all, I loved the panel where Lydia’s librarian leans forward as Lydia approaches the desk; the two share a smile, connected, as Lydia’s flowers, bloom up from the librarian’s desk, letting readers know that this is part of her magical, safe space. She wanders through the stacks, accompanied by a whale; she and her librarian fight dragons together; she is where she needs to be. Now a librarian, Lydia connects with the children in her room, making paper dolls, sharing books and hugs, and connecting at that desk, robots and flowers present: she is someone else’s safe place now. An afterword from Lydia Sigwarth talks about her experiences in the library and reconnecting with her librarian Deb Stephenson, thanks to This American Life.

I was lucky enough to attend a librarian chat with Lydia Sigworth and her publisher, and it was one of the best experiences! Lydia Sigwarth is amazing, folx; I just wanted to talk books with her forever. She’s upbeat, inspirational, and such a positive force. I’m thrilled that she had a chance to share her story with us. Dear Librarian is a book every library should have handy – and that every librarian should read, because what we do makes an impact (and we need to remember that!).

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 ALA Midwinter, Conferences & Events, picture books

Bloomsbury Book Buzz and the Free Library of Philadelphia at #ALAMW20

The first day of ALA Midwinter tends to be a little slow, so I was thrilled when my friend invited me to be her +1 at Bloomsbury’s Book Buzz, held at the Free Library of Philadelphia. I was planning on visiting the library during my Midwinter visit, so this was perfect! We got to enjoy the Our Five Senses exhibit, which included some beautiful picture book framed artwork and thought-provoking questions about the senses various art invoked in the kids.

Still one of my favorite storytime books: artwork from Aliki’s My Five Senses (1962).

 

A friendly, giant eyeball welcomes us to the exhibit.

Artwork from Angela Dominguez’s Maria Had a Little Llama (2013).

 

Sketches from Zachariah OHora’s Stop Snoring, Bernard! (2011), which is storytime GOLD.

 

Artwork from Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight (2014).

 

Ezra Jack Keats’s artwork for Ann McGovern’s Zoo, Where Are You? (1964)

 

Finally, it was time to go to the Book Buzz, where there were snacks! There were fun tattoos and swag bags for all, and we got to enjoy author Isaac Fitzgerald’s presentation about his book, How To Be a Pirate, and the four additional books being fêted.

I love this picture so much, but the actual photo it’s based on was underneath, and it is stunning.

The work that went into this book is incredible: look at the Google Image search, and look at how illustrator Laura Freeman used it to create this spread.

I love this series! Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison are back with their upbeat young protagonist from I Got Rhythm and I Got the Christmas Spirit. Now, she’s showing readers her school spirit, and the artwork is just PERFECT.

I can’t even do this justice with photos. The artwork is gorgeous, with warm colors and the full run of facial expressions, from “Whoa, this school is big” to “I am not having this”. I love this relentlessly cheerful little girl and wish I could channel her positive energy every day.

A Way With Wild Things has the sweetest story of an introvert named Poppy, who will do anything to not stand out at family gatherings, including dressing like household fabrics… until she spies a gorgeous dragonfly at one backyard party. Sara Palacios’ artwork is just beautiful, and I love spotting Poppy in each spread. Didn’t get a photo of this spread, because I just couldn’t capture the textures in a way that made me happy with the photo.

This book is WAY too much fun. It’s a story about girls being pirates, about tattoos and their meanings, and love. The author and illustator are both tattooed and fantastic, and Isaac Fitzgerald’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. How To Be a Pirate reminds me a bit of 2016’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story, by Alison McGhee and Eliza Wheeler; I love the way each book illustrates the meanings we have behind our tattoos. Adorable, fun, and with gorgeous illustration with a definite tattoo flair.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Book Without a Story will make you want to hug a book

The Book Without a Story, by Carolina Rabei, (Sept. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678797

Ages 4-7

The library is full of stories – including the stories that the books tell about us people! When the library in The Book Without a Story closes for the evening, the books sit around and share stories: who borrowed them last, where they went with their person, what they did. Poor Dusty has no story to tell, though: high up on a shelf, no kid is able to see Dusty to borrow him! The other books come up with a plan to get Dusty in front of a little girl named Sophie, that they just know will love Dusty. But the next day, when Dusty lands – PLOP! – in front of Sophie, she’s distracted and leaves Dusty on a table… where her little brother, Jake, starts turning pages. It turns out that Dusty is a dinosaur book, and Jake just LOVES dinosaurs! Jake borrows Dusty, and comes back to the library with his own adventures to tell, and it turns out that Jake’s been talking about his adventures too: Dusty is book of the month!

This is the sweetest story about book lovers, and one of the first things I learned in library school: there’s a reader for every book. This is a great library visit read-aloud, and a wonderful storytime read-aloud. The library is filled with warm colors and sunlight streaming in through the windows; even the closed library looks inviting and welcoming in the evening, when the books gather to relate their adventures. The books demonstrate teamwork and empathy to reach Dusty and get him a reader, and when Jake and Dusty come together, it’s just adorable; we see how a good book can transform a reader: Jake tells everyone within earshot about Dusty, conducts his own storytime, reading the book and using dinosaur action figures as props; and reads the book “in the car, at the kitchen table, in the bath… and secretly at night”. I love the nod to the kindly librarian who explains to Jake that he can take borrow Dusty, when the end of the day arrives and he’s still reading – some of the best moments I have here at my library are when I tell kids that they can take the books home “to visit” for three whole weeks! Endpapers show a gathering of books on the opening endpapers, and Jake and the library kids (and pets) reading and playing dinosaur dress-up.

An adorable pick for readers and book lovers, and one that will send your readers running to the library. (But please, don’t run when you get here.)

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Tween Reads

Middle Grade Quick Takes: Thundercluck! and The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library

I did some more TBR-diving over the last few weeks, and have some more middle grade quick takes!

Thundercluck!, by Paul Tillery IV & Meg Wittwer, (Oct. 2018, Roaring Brook Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-15228-3

Ages 8-12

How do you not check out a book that has the tagline, “Half moral. Half god. All natural chicken”? Thundercluck is about the valiant chicken of Thor. The story begins when Thor and the evil Under-Cook Gorman Bones fight as Thor defends his hen, Hennda, from the cooking pan. Thor hits Bones with lightning, but Hennda gets a jolt, causing her to lay a giant egg, which hatches and reveals a tiny chick with a horned helmet and little vest, and who shoots lightning from his beak. Behold, the birth of Thundercluck! Raised by Brunhilda, a young Valkyrie in Odin’s court, Thundercluck and Hennda are sent to Midgard (that’s Earth), to be kept safely hidden from vengeful Gorman Bones, but like every epic tale, the heroes return to do battle; it’s the Under-Cook versus the Valkyrie and her faithful chicken for the win!

Thundercluck! is the first in a new series – the next book is due out in September – and is a win for your middle grade readers. There’s a lot of hilarious moments, some good Norse mythology, epic battles, and, at the heart of the book, is the story of an enduring friendship. Black and white illustrations throughout are adorable and will keep readers turning pages. There’s a Thundercluck! website that includes an award-winning short on Thundercluck!, which was author Paul Tillery IV’s MFA thesis. Give this one to your younger mythology fans – if they like Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams’s Thunder Girls series, they’ll love this one!

 

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library, by Linda Bailey/Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, (June 2017, Greenwillow Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-06-244093-8

Ages 8-12

Ferny Creek School Library has a beloved librarian who goes on maternity leave, and her awful replacement wants to get rid of the library and make way for a testing space! Meanwhile, Eddie, a tiny green bug with a passion for books, finds himself in the library as he searches for his Aunt Min, who was injured and can’t get out of the library. Together, the two bookworms – bookbugs? – cook up a Charlotte’s Web-type strategy to plead for the library to stay as is.

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library is just adorable. The story, loaded with great book references, includes Eddie & Min’s “Bugliography” at the end; a nice listing of all the books mentioned, in one spot, and serves as a good readers’ advisory guide (and display guide). This is a love letter to libraries, particularly school libraries, which have had a really rough time of it these last few years. The heart of the story is the love for a school library, and its librarian, who makes the library a home for the kids at school, versus the mean Mrs. Visch, sister of the school’s superintendent, and testing enthusiast who sees books and reading as frivolous at best. Roller Girl’s Victoria Jamieson created adorable black and white illustrations, featured throughout the book, and really makes readers fall in love with Eddie, Min, and their quest to save the library. It’s a feel good story that book lovers will come to again and again, and reminded me of all the great memories I have from my first library and Mrs. Reale, my first school librarian, who always seemed to know what book to hand me when I needed it.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Kane Miller’s Shine-a-Light series goes to the library!

At the Library (Shine-a-Light), by Heather Alexander/Illustrated Ipek Konak, (Jan. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678230

Ages 4-8

The Shine-a-Light series from Kane Miller adds a fun dimension to nonfiction reading: hold each right-hand page to the light to see a hidden image. At the Library is a nice introduction to libraries for younger readers who are new to what libraries can do and offer. Each page asks questions that can be answered by shining a light on the pages: find a mother reading to her baby; learn some of the rules of the library (we don’t really enforce that “no loud talking or making noise” business, but it is nice if you’re relatively quiet and respectful); and take in a puppet show or a storytime. The artwork within the body of the book has soft colors and black and white pages to allow for the “hidden” pictures to shine through and the questions allow for interaction between a reader and the storytime audience. The book even covers bookmobiles and little free libraries, plus a quick trip to the Library of Congress. A back section features some of the more unique items in collections around the world, including the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear that inspired A.A. Milne’s tales; a snow globe collection, and the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the day he died.

My 6-year-old really enjoys this series, and my storytime group at my last library loved seeing what went on in outer space. I’ve got a class visit that I’m going to introduce to At the Library this week – let’s see how it goes! The Shine-a-Light series is a fun addition to nonfiction collections, and punches up a nonfiction storytime, and there’s a bunch to choose from.

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Archival Quality is SO GOOD, and not just because I’m a librarian.

Archival Quality, by Ivy Noelle Weir/Illustrated by Steenz, (March 2018, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620104705

Recommended for readers 14+

First, the scoop: Cel Walden is a young woman who loves working with books. But she loses her library job, because she’s also dealing with crippling anxiety and depression. She finds another job, this time as an archivist, at the Logan Museum, where she’s responsible for putting records in order and digitizing them. Sounds pretty cool, right? (You know it does.) She meets Abayomi, also called Aba, the secretive curator, and the fabulous Holly, librarian extraordinaire. Cel starts scanning and archiving, but notices strange things afoot at the library and the archivist’s apartment on library property; she also starts having some strange dreams about a young woman who needs Cel’s help. Cel becomes consumed with finding out this woman’s identity and what happened to her, which puts her job, relationship, and possibly, her mental health, at risk.

Now, the raving: Archival Quality is a great story on so many levels. It’s a ghost story; it’s got secrets; it takes place in a library – where better to have a ghost story?!; and it takes a strong and sensitive look at mental health and takes an hard look at mental health treatment in the past. Cel is on a mission to find out what happened to the ghostly girl who shares her initials and her mental health challenges. The ghost’s story gets under Cel’s skin because she empathizes; she understands, and she wants to help put an uneasy, persecuted spirit to rest: and that certainly has a double meaning, as we see the toll this takes on Cel through the story.

The characters are wonderful. Cel stands on her own as a fully realized character, and her friends: the mysterious Aba has his own fears and frustrations to work with, and Holly is strong and witty. Holly and Aba are characters of color and Holly’s got a girlfriend whose family has its own ties to the Logan Museum, giving us a tertiary character that has a realistic connection to the story and isn’t just there to be window dressing for Holly. Archival Quality is a solid story that works to bash away at the stigma of depression and anxiety. I love it, and I can’t wait to get it into the hands of the readers at my library. I’d hand this off to my upper-level middle schoolers and high schoolers, and keep copies handy for the college kids.

Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz also happen to be former librarians. See? LIBRARIES ROCK. Check out Ivy Weir’s webpage for more webcomics (with Steenz) and general awesomeness. Check out Steenz’s Tumblr for more art.