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1. Christian Children’s Literature in the Library: A Quick Accounting

So I’m sitting at my desk the other day, paging through some children’s books I was sent from who knows where (my records are spotty at best and comparable to what happens when a raccoon is set free in a paper factory at worst) when I stumble across this book Stories of the Saints by Margaret McAllister, illustrated by Alida Massari.  I don’t need to tell you that here in New York there is a HUGE need for books on saints for kids.  The local Catholic schools regularly assign such a project to their students and I well remember sitting at the reference desk, stumped, as the kiddos asked for books on one obscure saint or another.  So I pick up the book and start reading and lo and behold it isn’t just beautifully illustrated (which it is) but written with a funny, not snarky, style.

Why am I so surprised?  Because great Christian literature for kids, that has been reviewed in professional journals, is very hard to come by. The need is there but the reviews are far and few between.  In New York we try to serve patrons of every religion, but it can be tricky when we’re talking about Christian publishers. Certainly I’ve been rather impressed by Lion Children’s Books as of late, and I’ve always admired the work of Eerdmans Children’s Books.  Add in Zonderkidz and you officially exhaust my knownledge of Christian children’s book publishers.

With this in mind I tapped my friend and author/illustrator Aaron Zenz and began to discuss with him those children’s authors and illustrators that work in the Christan book market.

The first thing Aaron informed me was that there are WAY more of them working in both the Christian and the secular publishing market than you might initially assume.  Here’s a quickie roster of some mainstream author/illustrators that straddle both fields:

N.D. Wilson – One of my first encounters with Nate came when I reviewed his book Leepike Ridge and his father linked to my review.  My blog stats skyrocketed.  Turns out his dad is Calvinist minister Douglas Wilson, who is a big time deal.  Nate writes Christian books for adults like Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl and has a series of interviews and lectures online as well as children’s book titles.  Aaron turned me onto a Lewis / Narnia one shown here:

John Hendrix – According to Aaron, John’s next book with Abrams is about the miracles of Jesus and is due out in 2016.  As it happens, John illustrates his church’s sermon notes and shares his sketchbooks online.  Naturally I hope they’ll be a book in and of themselves someday.

Doug TenNapel – This one I knew.  Turns out that the guy behind books like Bad Island and Cardboard is responsible for a whole lotta VeggieTales and has even been nominated for an Emmy.

Steve Bjorkman – I know him from a variety of picture books he’s illustrated though he may be best known for illustrating Jeff Foxworthy’s books.  Turns out he’s illustrated a bunch of Christian books as well.

Molly Idle – Surprise!  It’s true!  The Caldecott Honor winner actually was better known to Aaron as a Christian book illustrator long before Flora.  Did you know that?  I sure as heck didn’t.

Ben HatkeZita the Spacegirl rocks, but she was hardly Ben’s first work.  Turns out he worked on a couple other things first.

But that is not all, oh no. That is not all.  Aaron was kind enough to give me a rundown of some recommended Christian titles for kids that he can vouch for. And since I found it useful I thought you might like to see it as well.  Here are sixteen of his recommendations with his comments:

1. Tip of the Top, the absolute best of all time are the “Adam Raccoon” books by Glen Keane.  Yes, Glen Keane the animator behind Ratigan, Ariel, Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Silver, Rapunzel.  There are 10 Adam Raccoon books, but I don’t know their print status, I have no idea if you can still get them.  If they are unavailable, it’s a huge shame.

2. “You are Special” by Max Lucado.  All of Max Lucado’s children’s books tend to be pretty good.  But his six(?) “Wemmicks” books are the best, and the first in the series “You are Special” is far and above.

3. “Tales of the Kingdom” by David and Karen Mains.  There are two other books that follow this one that I haven’t read but have heard aren’t quite as good.  But I’ve read Tales of the Kingdom to hundreds of kids countless times in multiple settings over the years.

4. “Hymns for a Kids Heart” by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada.  Four volumes – 2 regular, a Christmas one, and an Easter one.  Great stories behind classic hymns with wonderful illustrations.

5. “Noah’s Ark” by Peter Spier.  Classic, and a Caldecott winner, and one of the few shining stars.

6.Parable” — this is a collection of 17 graphic novel stories, just like the Flight series.  It includes work by Ben Hatke (Zita) and Stephen McCranie (Mal&Chad)

7. There are 3 books by Karma Wilson and Amy June Bates that are amazing: “I Will Rejoice,” “Make a Joyful Noise,” and “Give Thanks to the Lord.”

8. “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” by Kadir Nelson.

9: Two gorgeous books illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson: “Psalm 23″ and “The Lord’s Prayer”

10: Some favorite Biblical Chrstmas ones: “Through the Animal’s Eyes” by Christopher Wormell, “This is the Stable” by Cynthia Cotten and Delana Bettoli, “The Little Drummer Boy” by Ezra Jak Keats

11. There are some beginning readers just now coming out from Zonderkids illustrated by David Miles that are fantastic.

12. There are also some beginning readers from Zonderkids about a bear named Barnabas that I like.

13. “The Nicene Creed” by Pauline Baynes (yep, Narnia’s Pauline Baynes)

14. “Psalm 23″ by Barry Moser

15. “Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise” by Tomie dePaola

16. “Sidney and Norman” by VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer

Aaron’s Bookie Woogie blog has always been one of my favorites out there, partially because it’s one of the only successful review blogs I’ve seen to incorporate children’s comments about books.  I hadn’t noticed all his Christian children’s book reviews out there.  So just in case you need an opinion on some of the titles he recommended, try the following out:

Many many thanks to Aaron Zenz without whom this post would not be possible. As librarians we seek to serve all our patrons, even when the means are difficult.  Information like this can prove invaluable.  Cheers to that.


10 Comments on Christian Children’s Literature in the Library: A Quick Accounting, last added: 4/27/2015
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2. Can Tech Lovers Still Celebrate Screen-Free Week?

Screen-Free Week begins May 4!

Screen-Free Week begins May 4!

In early May people nationwide will be celebrating Screen-Free Week for a chance to unplug and smell the roses. For the past two years our tech-savvy children’s librarians have participated and it has actually sparked valuable dialogue with parents and caregivers about actively participating in their child’s screen-time activities. Last year we removed the iPads in the library and asked the community to pledge what they would do with the additional time as a result of the screen fast. Comments ranged from riding a bike, to playing more basketball, and of course our favorite response from a mystery patron – find a job asap. The librarians offered resources and articles to parents on monitoring screentime, while also sharing some of our favorite apps which include award-winners and professional recommendations.

The question is can we still advocate for the appropriate use of tech with kids, while also valuing a little unplugging of media from time to time?

Of course!

Last year's SFW pledges

Last year’s SFW pledges

I’ve always believed that something designed for good has the potential to be misused. Just as children’s librarians explain to parents and caregivers in storytime the importance of modeling certain behaviors to encourage literacy development, the same goes for media usage.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center recently published Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with your Kids, which provides suggestions on how using apps together can support a child’s learning and development. When we featured the new Sight Word Adventure app on one of the mounted iPad stations in the Children’s Library, one parent immediately commented on the quality and effectiveness of the learning tool. She wanted additional information and suggestions for her child who was learning to read. This type of interaction can easily lead to a lengthy conversation on monitoring media use and making screen-time a family activity.

Thinking about the weighty topic of screen-time, I was deeply encouraged last week when I went to hear one of my role models as a child, Dr. Jane Goodall speak in Brooklyn. Her talk was entitled, Sowing the Seeds of Hope, and when asked what gave her hope in today’s world I was surprised that she brought technology into the equation. Dr. Goodall mentioned the ability of the young Roots & Shoots members to make global connections because of technology, as well as the rapid awareness brought to environmental causes via social media outlets.

So this year during Screen-Free Week, we plan to ask kids to think about how they can use the technology we have to help make the world a better place.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

The post Can Tech Lovers Still Celebrate Screen-Free Week? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Preparing Teens for Life through Creative Programming

When we plan programs for teens, how do we create programs that will teach them something useful, but still fun and exciting? We can search the web, ask our colleagues for ideas, and look in old library school textbooks, but, ultimately, our journey begins with the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.

When we look closely at the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, the general framework focuses on the external and internal assets that can be found in a teen’s environment, which helps them develop. According to the Search Institute:

“The 40 Developmental Assets follow “building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible”

What’s great about these developmental assets is that we already offer programs that support one or more of these assets.  Although we can’t hit every single asset (much to our chagrin), we can cover many of these building blocks by creating programs that ensure our teens are getting the support, encouragement, and opportunity to grow and learn in the library; by incorporating several developmental assets within our programs, we can help teens discover new things, which will inspire and entice them to come into the library with their friends to learn more. If we want to lure new teens, and current teens, I highly recommend introducing these programs during the annual summer reading program.

The best part of summer reading programs are that they are themed; it definitely makes programming a little easier, or challenging, depending on the theme, but it forces us to get creative with how we craft and present our programs. As teen librarians, we always have to be on our feet so why not plan our summer reading programs around lessons that revolve around life skills using ideas such zombies, crafts, food, and robots. Here are a couple of programs that I have been able to implement, which utilize several of the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents to teach basic life skills:

Making a Difference @ Your Library Teen Summer Reading Program

Focus: Giving back to the community

Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity

  1. SRP Closing Party & Care Packages
    1. Teens came to the library to celebrate the end of the summer reading program by making care packages for them men and women overseas; they also made greeting cards expressing their appreciation for all our military men and women.
  1. Making and Donating No Sew Blankets
    1. This program I cannot to credit for because my colleague learned about Project Linus and it was a hit with the teens; they spent 2.5 hours making blankets to provide a child in need with a security blanket.


Zombie vs. Ninjas Teen Summer Reading Program

Focus: Learning how to care/defend one’s self and work in teams

Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Positive Identity

  1. Zombie vs. Ninjas Food Fest
    1. Teens literally ate their way through this program by eating ramen and zombie brains and hearts out of Jello by strategically teaming up with other teens with very, very large appetites. It was hysterical and a lot of fun because we were able to motivate teens to read this summer since we had the chance to talk about the program and prizes.
  1. Zombie Combat Training
    1. Teens learned how to defend themselves from attackers with the help a self-defense instructor. This program did require a waiver since it was a physical activity, but teens enjoyed the program (especially the young ladies) since some of them were going off to college.

Groundbreaking Reads Teen Summer Reading Program

Focus: Getting ready for college and adulthood

Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence

  1. Sewing for Survival
    1. Teens continued to practice their sewing skills while making a super cute doll with the help of local artist, Liane Shih. This program allowed teens to have fun in an incredibly constructive way where they learned different types of stitches and techniques.
  1. Cooking for Survival
    1. Teens learned how to make nutritious meals using items they can buy at the grocery store and make in their dorms/apartments using a microwave or rice cooker. Teens really, really loved the idea of making staples such as burritos, pasta, and other dishes so they wouldn’t have to rely on sodium-laden foods that were cheap and low in nutritional value.
  1. Wilderness Survival Training
    1. Teens must work in groups to build a tent, or shelter, without any instructions or help from staff, make a proper first aid kit, and cooking with a toaster oven. After setting up each tent, we made basic first aid kits, which teens got take home with a list of supplies.

Spark a Reaction Teen Summer Reading Program

Focus: STEM and teamwork

Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence

  1. Robot Building Workshop
    1. Teens had to team up and build a robot using a pre-fabricated kit and tools. This program took almost 2.5 for teens since they had to work together to make a robot (we had several options) and the results were awesome!
  1. Food Science
    1. Teens came together to make food of all kinds (chewing gum, chocolate candies, gummy candies, and ice cream) with the help of science kits from Mindware.com.  This program was a lot of fun because teens got enjoy the fruits of their labor and lots and lots of ice cream made from a ball.



  1. http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

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4. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Organic teen-led programming

Before last summer, whenever I heard the term "teen-led programming," this feeling of ennui would descend upon me like a black cloud.  Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but let's just say I felt . . . defeated.

I loved the concept.  How exciting to have programming not only for teens, but led by teens!  What better way to offer programming that is relevant and exciting for them?  But even with an active Teen Advisory Board, I had never been able to make it happen.  No one ever had the time, commitment, or desire to do the work of leading a program.

Then, last summer I planned and facilitated a Teen Writing Camp that was well attended by both teen program regulars and newbies.  We did all kinds of writing exercises, talked to YA authors via Skype and in-person visits,  ate snacks, and generally had a great time.  And then it was over, and we all moved on to other things.

That's when the ennui-busting magic happened.

It seems that unbeknownst to me, a group of writing camp participants discovered a mutual love for the Pokemon card game while working on their small-group writing assignments, and since the library was where they first met, it was the logical place for them to meet up and play.  I kept stumbling over the group once or twice a week playing on the floor of the teen area or at a table near the adult fiction section and noticing that a) the group was made up mostly of teens who hadn't been regular library users before the writing camp, and b) the group was exponentially bigger every time I saw it.

One day, when checking in with them, I mentioned that if they were going to meet on a regular basis, I'd be happy to reserve a room for them every week.  The group fell silent -- so silent I thought I'd broken some sort of unspoken rule -- and then a voice said "Seriously? You'd do that for Pokemon?" When I confirmed that yes, Pokemon was a legitimate use of library space, they jumped on the opportunity:

"Can we be a real club?"  Yes.

"Can our club be in the library's calendar?"  Yes.

"Can we make posters?"  Yes.

"Can we bring snacks?"  Well, how about I provide the snacks?


And thus an amazing teen-led program was born -- a program that is almost a year old and still going strong.  Staff involvement is minimal and relegated to room reservations, snack procurement, and statistics-gathering.  When attendance dipped several months ago, the group wrote recruitment announcements for the schools and the numbers climbed again.  They've developed a texting system to remind each other about meetings, and several of the members have volunteered at the school-age version of the club that we had to start because the under-12s were so jealous of the teenagers.

Most of all, I've learned to keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities like this.  Teen-led doesn't have to mean complicated.  It doesn't have to mean pleading with already over-scheduled teens to lead a program at the library.  It can mean programs that grow organically out of other, seemingly unrelated programs.  And it can be beautiful to watch.


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5. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in April

New Loot:
  • The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Zaver von Schonwerth
  • The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno
  • The Sound Of Music Story by Tom Santopietro
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Dr. Seuss's ABC
  • Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  • King's Cross by Timothy Keller
  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss
  • The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • Onion John by Joseph Krumgold 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  • Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated and with notes by Christine Donougher
  • Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
  • The Just City by Jo Walton
  • Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  • The Indigo King by James A. Owen
  • Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation by Cindy Hval
  • Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp
  • Memories Before and After The Sound of Music by Agathe von Trapp
  • Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers by Valerie Lawson
  • George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter
  • The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War, Peter Englund, translated by Peter Graves.
  • Anastasia and Her Sisters by Carolyn Meyer
  • The Far Side of Evil by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • The War that Ended Peace: To Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan
  • Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life by Kimberley and James Dean
  • Who Thinks Evil: A Professor Moriarty Novel by Michael Kurland
  • The Infernal Devices & Others: A Professor Moriarty Omnibus by Michael Kurland
  • The Empress of India: A Professor Moriarty Novel by Michael Kurland
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

      Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Pulling a scam & learning to be Popular

Jackson Greene has spent four looooong months behaving like a model citizen since he was caught lip-locking Kelsey in front of the Principal's door. (He was trying to pick the lock.  The kiss was a cover-up.) BUT when he hears that Keith Sinclair is running for Student Council President against his ex-bet friend, Gaby de la Cruz, he assembles a team and gets to work.

Varian Johnson has written a guidebook to pulling scams in his book The Great Greene Heist.  Jackson's team of middle school nerds, techies, cheerleaders and chess champs manages to uncover a plot to fix the election so that Keith will win.  There are references to Jackson's older brother, Samuel, and a criminally inclined grandfather that makes ME hope for more about the Greene family of rapscallions.

Maya Van Wagenen was an 8th grade Social Outcast at her middle school.  Even the sixth graders insulted her.  When she found a copy of Betty Cornell's Teenager Popularity Guide circa 1951, her mom suggested that Maya follow the guide as an experiment and journal about it.  The result is Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, a clever, funny and moving adventure into the social jungle that is Middle School.  Maya followed advice that is timeless AND dated in her attempt to be popular.  And what Maya learned is a lesson we can all use.

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7. Celebrating Jokes

I read once that kids laugh on average 400 times a day! And adults only laugh about 15 times a day! And since laughter is supposed to be good for the heart, nervous system, and even digestion—not to mention our emotions and well-being—I think we need a lot more laughter in our lives. 

Watch these young readers performing “No Kidding” by Michelle Schaub in celebration of National Tell a Joke Day which occurs every August 16. (Make plans now!) Here’s the video created by Brooke H. I love that she got two students involved who come from other countries originally—reading both the English and the Spanish versions of the poem. And don’t miss the blooper footage complete with music!

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For the full text of this poem and 150+ more (all in English AND Spanish), order your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations HERE and for more Poetry Celebrations fun, click HERE. Plus for more on National Poetry Month, click HERE.

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8. #683 – Black & White Nighty-Night by Sarah Jones

cover USEx


Black & White Nighty-Night

Written by Sarah Jones
Illustrated by Sarah Jonestop book of 2015 general
Blue Manatee Press        4/01/2015
12 pages           Age 0—3
“This unique concept book combines the ever-popular bedtime nursery rhyme with contemporary high-contrast illustrations, specifically designed with babies in mind. The youngest readers and their families will delight in the gentle story of an owl saying goodnight to barnyard friends as they snuggle into bed. Bold black-and-white illustrations will capture babies’ interest, as the soothing rhymes lull them to sleep.” [publisher]

Which word do you use to tell a friend goodnight? Little Owlet has quite the repertoire: nighty-night, sweet dreams, sleep tight, doze, sleep soundly, and, of course, goodnight; six heartfelt bedtime-salutations, for six diurnal farm friends.  After hearing Little Owlet’s goodnights to her critter friends, and before closing their tired eyes and dreaming, young children will be ready to wish their own goodnights, “Nighty-night Mom. Night, Dad.”  

The simple rhymes in Black & White Nighty-Night are perfect for young children, as is the book’s size and shape. The thick and sturdy glossy pages are perfect for chubby little fingers to turn without tearing. Even a wet mess, after a plea of “One more drink, please,” will wipe off quickly. I would mention how fast blobs of fallen jelly and smears of peanut butter clean away, but Black & White Nighty-Night is most definitely a bedtime story.

Black & White Nighty—Night

As stars light the night, Little Owlet stretches her feathery wings and, with mom waving goodbye, flies off into the twinkling night sky. Not far away is the barnyard. Wherever Little Owlet is heading, she takes the time to say nighty-night to her friends.

“Sleep tight hen and chickies, lying in your nest.
“Doze, fluffy kitty cat, purring as you rest.”

The seemingly simply black and white illustrations are adorable. With a little effort and imagination, form meets function (Ms. Jones’ specialty), and a lifelong love of learning and books can take root. Help your child find objects by locating Little Owlet in each spread. Use different voices, such as a hardy “Moooo,” a squeaky “Oink-oink,” and a soft “Meow,” to familiarize your child with common farm animals (a cow, lamb, pig, chicken, cat, and . . . nope, not telling). Get those little fingers learning shapes by tracing the black-and-white outlined objects and animals. And, if all that is not enough, the momma animals have from one to five babies; a good start on counting to ten. Black & White Nighty-Night will be a hit with both toddlers and parents. (Reviewers, too.)

BLACK AND WHITE NIGHTY NIGHT. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Sarah Jones. Copyright © 2015 by Blue Manatee Press. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Blue Manatee Press, Cincinnati, OH.

Purchase Black & White Nighty-Night at AmazonBook DepositoryIPGBlue Manatee Press.

Learn more about Black & White Nighty-Night HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Sarah Jones, at her website:  http://www.sarahluciajones.com/
Find more creative board books at the Blue Manatee Press website:  http://www.bluemanateepress.com/

Sarah Jones, artist, author, teacher, storyteller, and fellow Ohioan and holds an MFA from the University of Cincinnati and a BFA in Painting and Art Education from Miami University (Ohio). Go Bucks! Ms. Jones also wrote and illustrated the award-winning board books Orange, Triangle, Fox and Bunnies Near and Far (both reviewed HERE) Her second 2015 release, Lloyd Llama, will be reviewed soon.

2015 Mom’s Choice Awards – Black & White Nighty-Night
2015 Mom’s Choice Awards – Lloyd Llama
2014 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year – Baby Unplugged: Play
2014 Mom’s Choice Awards – Baby Unplugged: Play

Review Section: word count = 339

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


Black & White Nighty-Night by Sarah Jones - Blue Manatee Press 2015


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Board Book, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: 2015 Mom's Choice Awards, barnyard animals, bedtime books, bedtime nursery rhyme, Black & White Nighty-Night, Blue Manatee Press, learning to count, little owlet, parent-child relationships, Sarah Jones, shapes, white-outlined animals

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9. Celebrating Summer Reading

Summer is right around the corner and we want to be sure to encourage kids to keep reading even after school is out. Here’s a poem that celebrates Summer Reading Month in June. It’s “Oh, Summer Books” by Diana Murray and Kaela L. has recruited a young volunteer who reads the poem with such expression that she really captures the spirit of the poem.

For the full text of this poem and 150+ more (all in English AND Spanish), order your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations HERE and for more Poetry Celebrations fun, click HERE. Plus for more on National Poetry Month, click HERE.

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10. Reminder: Apply to Host the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture!

Pat Mora Arbuthnot Lecturer

Pat Mora will deliver the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture (image courtesy of Pat Mora)

ALSC and the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Committee are proud to announce the opening of the application to host the 2016 event featuring award-winning children’s book author and pioneering literacy advocate Pat Mora.

Host site application forms can be downloaded at the Arbuthnot site. Applications are due May 15, 2015. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials. The lecture traditionally is held in April or early May.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Mora grew up bilingual and bicultural. With degrees in English and speech, she was a teacher and university administrator before writing children’s books. Known for her lyrical style, Mora’s poetry and prose have won numerous awards, including a 2005 Belpré Honor Medal for text for “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale of a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, and illustrated by Raul Colón. Her generosity for sharing bookjoy, the phrase she coined for the power and pleasure of words, led Mora to launch “Día,” which will observe its 20th anniversary in 2016.

The post Reminder: Apply to Host the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. Revisiting Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 "Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."
"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

 I love rereading Charlotte's Web. I do. It's not one I reread often, it is a sad book after all. Though bittersweet may be the better word for it. It's a beautifully written book with memorable characters and scenes. I love Wilbur, the runt pig who turns out to be some pig after all. I love Charlotte, the spider who sees Wilbur's loneliness and becomes the best friend a pig could ever have. I love, love, love Charlotte in fact. I love her wisdom and insight; I love her fierce determination. If I didn't love Charlotte so very, very much, the book wouldn't be nearly as touching. I like the other farm creatures as well--even Templeton--though none as much as Charlotte and Wilbur. I also love Fern who faithfully visits the nearby farm every day just to watch Wilbur. She has a 'true' understanding of things.

Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway. At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on. It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed. You climbed a ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair. Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope. Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it. Mothers for miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will. (68-9)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Growing Students Who Love Poetry

  Back in March, I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan Reading Association conference in Grand Rapids, MI. I had been preparing my own presentation for the event and had neglected to… Continue reading

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13. The Babies and Doggies Book

Board Book: The Babies and Doggies Book. John Schindel and Molly Woodward. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Lots of things babies do, doggies do too. Babies and doggies hide and peek. Babies and doggies like to eat.

Premise/plot: Photos and text reveal just how much babies and doggies have in common. The photos are adorable. If you find babies cute and adorable, you'll like the pictures. If you find dogs cute--especially puppies--then you'll like the pictures. If you like puppies and babies, you'll find the book precious.

My thoughts: I liked it. I did. I loved looking at the photographs. The text was very nice as well. The rhyming worked well and didn't get in the way. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. On the Road - 1000 Books B4 K and Programming Mightiness

Pixabay Image
I'm traveling to the beautiful southwestern part of WI along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers to present a workshop on programming mightiness - and in particular 1000 Books Before Kindergarten how-to's. Below are the live links to the topics we plunged into!

While programming isn't all we do, it is certainly the most public and often the most pressured thing we do (from preparation to conflicting demands). Today we look at strategies to program smarter and more effectively; the importance of balance and how to fairly meet the many needs of our public - and our funders. Creating a zen balance between service to all ages, finding time to recharge and plan, learning to get off the hamster wheel of constant programming and program shares were just some of what we explored.

Here are the workshop resources that were shared with my colleagues:

Today's Workshop Pinterest board
Let 1000 Books Bloom Pinterest board
Basic Resources how-to post for 1000 Books
My general Pinterest boards  - (boards on different program types and samples)
Pixabay (free images)  
Struckmeyer, Amanda Moss.  DIY Programming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming without Stretching Your Budget and Staff. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

A *Few * Favorite Programming Blogs:
Jbrary   (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Mel’s Desk  (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Kids Library Program Mojo (for a full list of fantastic program idea blogs AND great program idea posts- this is the class crowd-sourced blog from our spring CE course and has a ton of ideas from students!)

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15. The Trees by Philip Larkin

The Trees The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread,  Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too. Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In fullgrown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say,

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16. Over the Hills and Far Away: a treasurey of nursery rhymes, collected by Elizabeth Hammill

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17. This Little Piggy (2015)

Board Book: This Little Piggy. A Finger & Toes Nursery Rhyme Book. Natalie Marshall. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: This little piggy went to the market.

Premise/Plot: A board book adaptation of the traditional nursery rhyme. Though these little piggies won't be eating any roast beef. I don't have a problem with adapting any of the lines. That's part of the fun of playing little piggies.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! I love the sturdiness of the pages. I think the pages will be easy for little hands to turn. All books--even board books--can be "loved" too much and wear out quickly. But this one seems a little better than some I've read and reviewed. I thought the illustrations were nice.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Instagram of the Week - April 27

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Showing off those new books and media!

Spring is in the air and new books and media items are popping up on our shelves. Now, how do we help our teens pick them and take them home? It's interesting to see the variation in library posts that spread the word about new materials. Some post photos as soon as those delivery boxes are unpacked or as the books are nearly finished with processing. Others share a photo of all of the books in the new section or highlight one title with a brief summary or review. Participating in weekly columns such as #bookfacefriday and #fridayreads or April's spine poetry contests can be another way to spotlight new titles in the collection. In addition to drumming up interest for new materials, these posts provide a great opportunity to remind our patrons that items can be placed on hold.

How do you show off your new materials? Have you found an approach that generates the most interest? Share with us in the comments section below!

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19. Reading & Writing Connections: Getting to Know a Character on the Outside and the Inside

“Writers,” Ali said as she leaned in close to teach her second graders, “I’ve got an important tip for you about your realistic fiction characters. You’ve done such a great job describing what they are… Continue reading

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20. 17 Carnations (2015)

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History. Andrew Morton. 2015. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy reading 17 Carnations: The Royals, The Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History? Yes and no. I enjoyed reading the first half very much. It was fascinating and informative. I couldn't put it down. The second half, however, felt both rushed and prolonged. Rushed in that the last few years of war were covered quite quickly and with no real detail. Prolonged in that the coverage of the "secret files" recovered seemed to go on forever and ever. And at the expense of covering the lives of the Duke and Duchess after the war.

I definitely am glad to have read it. It was my first book about Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor). And I felt I learned much from reading it. I just wish it had stayed focused more on him and less on decades of cover-up. Or that it had handled the cover-up aspects a bit differently--in a more engaging way.

So the book isn't quite satisfying as a biography or as a "war book." Though it is almost both. I would say the book is definitely rich in detail and provides a unique perspective of the war and the royal family.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. To Attack the Stack . . .

To Attack the Stack . . .

puppy stack booksMonths of health problems, of which rehabilitation and recovery have finally begun—”YEAH!”—a knee  injury, and now gout in the large (large and red) knuckle of my big toe—yep, all on the same leg—(conservatively) stopped 130 book reviews, not that the current TBR stack has anywhere near that number of books.

kids-sitting-on-booksNeeding—wanting—to get these books to local school kids, honor my commitments to several wonderful publicity/marketing directors, and give myself a smidge of breathing room, most non-publisher review and tour requests—meaning predominantly self-published authors—have been turned down or asked to request again at a later date. This means not helping deserving writers, and robbing my loyal readers—yes, you—of some excellent stories from these creative, on-their-own writers. Even though reviews are Robot_Dog-33currently free, I feel increasing guilt with each “request denied” reply written.

That said, whenever themes emerge or similar genres can be grouped, one post may contain two or, less often (except the next post), three reviews. My lower word count* goal is still my goal. The shared post, really a summary of my thoughts, will not devalue any title’s review simply because it must share the
stars. Each title will have its own post and you can choose which complete review(s) to read.

I hope you will also choose to leave your own thoughts, opinions, and humorously crazy comments. puppy pencilEach one is much appreciated, read, and will receive a reply. Mr. This-Kid-Reviews-Books is fantastic at replying that same day (a goal I cannot seem to reach), but honestly, each comment is read and I promise, each will receive a reply . . . though not at the speed of James Patterson’s pen.

Therefore, please, I beg you, er, don’t make me beg!? Leave your legacy! Write thy witty words. Post perplexing prose. Rooaar, hisssss, or SNAP if dis-grrrrunt-tled. Like everyone who writes, I wait with baited breath for your comments; your review of my work; your words of wisdom; your ona . . . onomate . . . onomatopeaa . . . onomatopoeia.

Tank you and take care,



(Dang it! I know, this salutation needs twicked; dare I admit, needin you’re assistance. Many of you wonderfully loyal and precise, uh, preshous—oh heck, you, reader are a much better writers than I, I meant, me? . . . I? . . . . wee? . . . . . (Ugh, does I need a superhero!)

Cute_Dog_Robot-13Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

*Word count = 392.

Filed under: Guest Post, HELP!, Review Blogs Tagged: appreciation, children's book reviews, commenting, Erik from ThisKidReviewsBooks, Kid Lit Reviews, reviews, Sue Morris, TBR, You the Loyal Reader

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22. Graceful - a review

When I reviewed The Last Present by Wendy Mass, I wrote the following:
The Last Present is the final book in the Willow Falls (or "birthday") series, realistic fiction with just the right amount of magic, courtesy of Angelina, the mysterious old woman with the duck-shaped birthmark. Angelina is seemingly the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls, the town where nothing happens by coincidence and everything happens for a reason. Readers of the series will delight in revisiting their favorite characters - Leo, Amanda, Tara, Rory, David and all rest, as their stories intertwine and the story of Angelina is finally revealed. ... I'm sad to see it come to an end. It's been great fun!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was sorry to see the Willow Falls series come to an end. In the forward to Graceful (Scholastic, 2015), Wendy Mass writes that her readers let her know "IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS" that they were not ready for the series to end.  Graceful (due out tomorrow) is a gift to her readers.

I think fans of the series will be happy with Graceful, in which Grace fills in (somewhat unwittingly) for the mysterious Angelina as the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls.  This is a series about friendship and family and the cosmic connectedness of all things. It can best be described as magical realism, and it is a series that should be read sequentially.  Mass does her best to catch the reader up with previous occurrences, but the series is so intricately plotted that it is difficult to skip a book or read them out of order.

Willow Falls has been a great place to visit, but I think Ms. Mass is ready to move on now.  All of our questions have been answered and all loose ends are tied.  It's been fun!  Enjoy!

The Willow Falls series by Wendy Mass

My Advance Reader Copy was supplied by the publisher.

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23. Week in Review: April 19-25

Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought] 
Dick Whittington and His Cat. Told and cut in linoleum by Marcia Brown. 1950. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Board Book: The Babies and Doggies Book. John Schindel and Molly Woodward. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: This Little Piggy. A Finger & Toes Nursery Rhyme Book. Natalie Marshall. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board book: Red Light, Green Light. Yumi Heo. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Jampires. Sarah McIntyre. Illustrated by David O'Connell. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Side by Side. Rachel Bright. Illustrated by Debi Gliori. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 60 pages. [Source: Library]
Ramona's World. Beverly Cleary. 1999. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
Ginger Pye. Eleanor Estes. 1950. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 306 pages. [Source: library]
Bo at Iditarod Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2014. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Green for Danger. Christianna Brand. 1944. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
Dragon Flight. Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Hippos Are Huge. Jonathan London. Illustrated by Matthew Trueman. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis. Devin Brown. 2013. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary. J.D. Greear. Foreword by Timothy Keller. 2011. B&H Books. 266 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's recommendation(s):

I loved, loved, LOVED Miss Marjoribanks. I also really enjoyed rereading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. April Short Stories

    April Short Stories (original sign-up post) (my list of 52) (challenge hosted by Bibliophilopolis)
    • King Diamonds "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens 
    • 2 Diamonds "Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell from The Grey Woman and Other Stories
    • Ace Clubs "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson from The Time Traveler's Almanac
    • Ace Hearts "A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
    "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens
    • I loved reading "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens. Here's how it begins, "Once upon a time, a good many years ago, there was a traveller, and he set out upon a journey. It was a magic journey, and was to seem very long when he began it, and very short when he got half way through." I thought it was beautiful in its imagery. It is about a "traveler" who first meets a young child, then a boy, then a young man, then a middle-aged gentleman with a family, then an old man. It was an incredible read.
    "Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • I persevered through it, and, it could have just been a case of bad timing, but, I couldn't make any sense out of this short story at all. Other than it was set in France. And the narrator was someone--a man? a woman? probably a man? doing genealogical research and hoping to find out how he was related--if he was related--to John Calvin. And half of it was probably a dream of sorts. Probably. It's not that I love first person narrative to begin with, but, in a short story it can be even more disorienting. I wasn't impressed with this one.
    "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson (1953)
    • Premise/Plot: "Death Ship" was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode in 1963. The story introduces three astronauts to readers. (Mason, Ross, and Carter). Their mission, I believe, is to scout out other planets to see if they are suitable for colonization. But their mission is fated to fail, in a way. It begins with them exploring a 'flash' or sorts. It ends up they're investigating the crash of what appears to be an earth spaceship very much like their own. What they find inside the ship, well, let's just say that they have a very hard time making sense of it. Will readers do a better job?! Perhaps, especially if they've seen the Twilight Zone episode a few times.
     "A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
    •  Premise/Plot: Readers meet Sidney a young woman who has been swept up into a fantasy world of her own creation. She writes a young man all about how wonderful and glorious and full her life is--a real social whirl. In reality, she's a poor, hardworking country girl. When she learns that he's on his way to visit her, she's in for quite a shock. As is he. But it's a pleasant one for the most part. He doesn't mind her lies. He loves her as is.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    25. Revisiting Scarlet (2012)

    Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]

    I first read Scarlet last year. I really enjoyed it, but, not as much as I ended up enjoying the second book in the series, Lady Thief.

    So. Scarlet is a retelling of Robin Hood. The narrator is "Will Scarlet" a young woman posing as one of Robin's men. All of the gang know her secret, though they didn't all learn at once. But most of the villagers don't. Scarlet is a thief with a past, a past that will catch up with her by the end of the novel. Through Scarlet's perspective, readers get to know Rob (Robin Hood), John Little, Much, and Tuck. Readers also get to know about the dangerous and cruel Guy Gisbourne. He's been hired to find Robin Hood and his gang and kill them...

    How did I feel about Scarlet the second time I read it? I enjoyed it so much more! I think one of the reasons I love rereading is because I can relax and enjoy how everything comes together. The first time I was focused on the potential of the premise, on the mystery--who was this Scarlet?--and on the action--will The Hood and his gang be able to save everyone?! The second time I was able to focus on the development of characters and relationships. I already had a connection with the characters, a LOVE for them, so that helped this reading experience tremendously.

    I'll be rereading Lady Thief before I read the third in the series, Lion Heart, which releases in May.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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