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Book Reviews from the Children's Department Staff of the Park Ridge Public Library
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Candice Phee marches to the beat of her own drummer. Candice might tell you, though, that she doesn’t see any drummers around, and that she’s sitting still at the moment, thank you. Candice is very literal, and very sure of her world. She knows quite well that none of her schoolmates like her, but she likes everyone anyway. I’ve seen several reviews which assert (as does Candice’s friend Douglas Benson’s mother) that she must be autistic, or somewhere ‘on the spectrum.’ Candice’s response? “I’m me.”
Candice’s outlook may be generally positive, but this doesn’t mean her world is an easy one–her baby sister died of SIDS; her mother has had a double masectomy and is (understandably) suffering from depression; her father had a business blow-up with Rich Uncle Brian before Candice was born, and has been frustrated in his job ever since. More than anything else, Candice wants to fix her family. She knows it won’t be easy, but she has to try. And when Douglas Benson confides that he believes that he is from another dimension and needs to get back to his real family, Candice is skeptical, but can’t quite bring herself to NOT believe him.
Candice is one of the most endearing, engrossing characters that I’ve read about in a long time. From her hilarious interactions with her teachers (regular and substitute) to her philosophical worries about her pet fish (does the fish think of her as a deity? Is it ethical for her to allow the fish to think so?), to her heartfelt attempts to heal her family’s wounds, every moment in this lovely novel was affecting. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion, so there’s no reason for the author to write a sequel, but I wouldn’t be at all upset to spend more time with Candice.
Posted by: Sarah
Just in time for autumn and Halloween, Penguin is back. This time Penguin is off on an adventure to find out what fall is like. Unfortunately, her little brother, Pumpkin, is too small to make the journey. But Penguin doesn’t forget about him and brings him back a little bit of fall.
Not only is this a story about the season but of sibling relationships as well. The cute illustrations share some of the joys of autumn. While Penguin and Pinecone is still my favorite in this series, I love the ending image of snowing leaves in this title.
Posted by: Liz
We all know what it’s like to be excited for something special. Heidi Heckelbeck waits all year long for the Brewster Fall Festival. She’s especially excited this year to go through the haunted barn with her best friend Lucy.
We also all know what it’s like to get sick and have to miss out on something special. Poor Heidi starts sneezing and feeling achy all over. At first she tries hard to ignore her symptoms, but when she becomes feverish she has to admit that she feels overall terrible. She has a really bad cold that she can’t even cure with a special “potion” and she will have to miss going to the long awaited Brewster Fall Festival!
When Heidi finally feels like her old self again, her family and friends delight her with a great surprise. They have turned the garage into a special haunted house just for her. What fun and how scary!
The Heidi Heckelbeck series is always a hit with me. Every page has an illustration that helps the reader further enjoy the story. This easy reader is not only a great read-alone story, but would also be fun to read aloud – especially on a crisp fall day!
Posted by: Wendy
As the daughter of a Jamaican father and a Mexican mother growing up in the middle of Iowa, Jewel’s life was never going to be the easiest. However, the fact that Jewel was born on the same day that her brother, Bird, died didn’t really help. Jewel’s grandfather stopped speaking after the tragedy and the rest of the family never fully recovered. Silence and avoidance permeate Jewel’s household as she constantly struggles to step out of her brother’s shadow. Then, one night in her favorite climbing tree Jewel meets a strange boy named John (Bird’s real name), and very quickly things begin to change. Is John a “duppy” – a Jamaican spirit the likes of which Jewel’s father and grandfather blame for the death of Bird? Or is he just a boy trying to find his own place in the world. Regardless of whether his appearance is merely coincidental or the work of stronger forces, John’s presence in the lives of Jewel and her family might be just the thing this family needs to break free of the pain of loss and silence.
Bird is a touching and intelligent look inside the life of a very special girl who has been overlooked for years. Although the story is told from Jewel’s point of view, Chan does a wonderful job of developing all of the important characters in Jewel’s life. We are even able to piece together a picture of Bird, the brother she never met, through the stories and bits and pieces that Jewel has collected over the years. In the audiobook Amandla Stenberg (you may recognize her as Rue from the movie The Hunger Games) provides the perfect voice for Chan’s Jewel. Stenberg’s delivery is bright and sweet and thoughtful while still maintaining an authentic childlike tone. As the story is told from the point of view of Jewel, Stenberg’s minimalist style of character variation works well here. It is clear that when the characters are speaking, we are hearing them as Jewel hears them. Whether reading the print version or listening to the audiobook, readers are sure to form an instant bond with this big-hearted little girl as she tries to come to terms with her family’s demons and make the most of her situation.
Look here for a short video about the story behind Bird.
Posted by: Staci
What would happen if the tomatoes in your garden just grew WAY TOO BIG and then started to ROLL toward the town?? YIKES! That’s what happens in the Runaway Tomato. When it starts to rain, the tomato grows and grows until it is so big that it gets stuck in the doorway. Help is definitely needed to pull it out, and in fact the whole town comes to help, but it still won’t budge. Once it is finally free, the firefighters and police officers cannot stop it from rolling, until a helicopter grabs it and flies away. But wait … the ropes are too tight, and it squishes all over the town! What a mess!! Of course, there isn’t anything else to do but to clean it up and declare a day for TOMATOFEST! It seems like the big “tomato problem” is solved until . . . the next time it rains and the problem starts all over again. This clever rhyming picture book reminds me very much of Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola and would be a very fun read-aloud.
Posted by: Mary
We’re so excited to bring you a short interview with Terry Border, the author and illustrator of the book Peanut Butter and Cupcake, and creator of myriad fabulous artworks.
Do you have any favorite scenes that you created for the book?
It was fun making the unicycle. A challenge too. I have to say that I really like the tree I made for French Fries to sit underneath though.
What advice would you give young writers?
I consider myself more a visual artist than I writer. I’m still struggling with trying to put words together. If I had to give advice though, it would be to write about what really interests you.
Do you have any subjects that you’re dying to write about, but haven’t yet?
I’m sure I will, but I don’t know what they are yet!
What is your favorite word?
For some reason, from the time I was a little kid “parasol” was a word that gave me a magic feeling in my brain. I have NO idea why, and I find that very weird.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by other people doing what they love. Good music also inspires me quite a bit. Other people’s artwork is awesome to look at.
What was the most exciting thing that happened to you as a child?
I always remember my first day of kindergarten. I loved kindergarten soooo much. Snacks and a naptime, how can you not love that?
Who is your favorite author or book (children’s or adult)?
Mark Twain was a genius. He wrote with such ease, and yet every page has a line that other writers can only dream of writing.
What authors or artists influenced you when you were first starting out?
I’ve always been a fan of Alexander Calder, and his mobiles and wire sculpture. If you look up him playing with his circus on Youtube, you can see his genius and maybe where I was influenced.
What are your hobbies when you’re not making art?
I like watching movies with my family. I’m a big Marx Brothers and WC Fields fan.
Can you give us any hints about any new books for children that you might have coming out soon?
Next year I have a children’s book coming out about a cupcake planning her own birthday party. I think there are a lot of laughs in it.
Thanks so much to Terry Border for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to see next year’s book about the cupcake! In the meantime, check out this video of Alexander Calder’s Circus!
We are excited to invite all children and their caregivers in Park Ridge to read A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck during the month of October as part of our community-wide reading event, Park Ridge Reads. Set in a rural Illinois town in the late 1920’s and 1930’s, this books features vignettes that recount two children’s annual summer visit to their larger than life Grandmother’s home.
Joey and Mary Alice are reluctant to leave their home in “Al Capone’s” Chicago at first, but by their third summer they have concluded that Grandma is not a good influence and their reluctance to visit wanes. Of course, they keep dragging their heels so as not to let their parents in their secret enjoyment of Grandma Dowdel.
The book is told from Joey’s perspective, as an adult “older than Grandma” looking back on his and Mary Alice’s summers visiting Grandma. The book reads like a series of tall tales; as one might expect from a man looking back and sharing his family’s legends. Grandma’s disdain for her small town’s gossip, prohibition and the law in general create laugh-out-loud scenarios each summer for Joey and Mary Alice as Grandma pulls pranks, creates schemes to catch local hooligans and discreetly wreaks havoc in her hometown with her grandkids in tow.
The author, Richard Peck is from Decatur, Illinois and the fictional and unnamed small town in this story is very much based on Peck’s remembering of Decatur as a young man. In fact, many of Richard Peck’s books are set in Illinois, including two companion titles to A Long Way from Chicago that feature more escapades with Grandma Dowdel.
We hope you will join the community in reading A Long Way from Chicago, start a conversation with your neighbors and classmates about the book and join us at the Library for a culminating event on Sunday, October 26. For more information on Park Ridge Reads for Kids, visit our website.
Adults, you can also be a part of the adult Park Ridge Reads by reading Michael Hainey’s After Visiting Friends and participating in a variety of events including book discussions and a culminating event at the Pickwick Theater on October 27. For more information on After Visiting Friends and Park Ridge Reads events for adults, visit our website.
Posted by: Kelly
M. T. Anderson has a talent few other authors can boast: he can suck in a reader like nothing else. Hilarious YA novel about competing burger chains? Yep. Picture book biography of Handel? Check. Middle grade fantasy about (among other things) mechanical goblins? No problem. Historical fiction written in next-to-perfect 18th century diction? Of course! An increasingly long series of books written as a pastiche of historical series books, with perfect understanding of the series tropes, characters that appeal to modern readers, and extremely affecting (and hilarious) stories? Why do you even ask?
He Laughed with His Other Mouths is the latest in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. This one focuses on my favorite of the three main characters — Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut! In the 1930s and 40s, Jasper starred in his own series of sci-fi adventure novels (and movies, and t.v. serials and advertisements, etc), but now he lives in Pelt with his single mother (Jasper was created by a highly concentrated beam of information projected from the region of the Horsehead Nebula), and tries, with the help of his friends Lily and Katie, to fit in the modern world.
After a disastrous science fair project (it didn’t even try to take over the world! AND people laughed at him!), Jasper feels so low that he decides, over the objections of his mother, to transport himself to the Horsehead Nebula to see just who it was that originally sent that concentrated beam of information. Was it his . . . father? Or was it Something Else? This rash decision will have drastic consequences not just for Jasper, not just for his mother, Lily, and Katie, but FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!
CAN YOU STAND to find out what Jasper discovers in the Horsehead Nebula?!
THRILL to outer-space hijinks!
SHIVER at the desperate danger!
DON’T WAIT to read this fabulous book, filled with, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear: “Even more death rays! No, really! Way, way too many death rays”!
Posted by: Sarah
Have you ever thought much about the different kinds of eyes that exist in the animal world? What about the evolution of the eye? Did you know that some animals use their eyes for more than just vision? In his book Eye to Eye, author and illustrator Steve Jenkins takes a closer look at the eyes of a variety of animals. Beginning with an overview of the four basic kinds of eyes (eyespot, pinhole, compound and camera), Jenkins provides specific examples of different animal eyes and what makes them unique. For instance, the bullfrog uses its eyes to push food down its throat and the stalk-eyed fly relies on the length of its eye stalks to attract a mate. Some creatures, like the blue mountain swallowtail butterfly, can see high-frequency colors that are invisible to the human eye; while others, like the sea slug, have only eyespots which can detect the presence of light, but cannot perceive solid images or colors. Using his trademark cut paper illustrations, Jenkins has put together yet another concise, informative, and visually engaging exploration of the animal world. Full of interesting facts and bright, colorful illustrations, Eye to Eye is sure to entertain and inform readers of all ages.
Virtually any Steve Jenkins book lends itself nicely to fulfilling the informational text requirements of the Common Core Standards. His work is well researched, focused, and engaging and his artistic style provides the opportunity for cross-curricular collaboration with the arts. Here are some possible connections to make using Eye to Eye:
• Once students have a better idea of how various types of eyes work and look, they can choose an animal and recreate a cut or torn paper collage image of that animal’s eye along with a brief description of what kind of eye it is and any special functions or features.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
• Common Core Standards for writing can be met by asking students to compare and contrast the different features of two animals’ eyes and write up two scenarios – one in which each animal would thrive while the other might struggle.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
• Try pairing Eye to Eye with Beth Fielding’s Animal Eyes (2011) for some more information about other animal eyes and ask students to compare and contrast the information and authors’ styles.
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
All standards are from the Common Core State Standards Initiative website
Posted by: Staci
This month, Sarah shares the book Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart.
The beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!
One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.
The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.
When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.
There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!
Posted by: Wendy
It’s time to go back to school, and just like a lot of kids, Pete is trying to figure out what to wear. He is asking EVERYONE! He asks his mom, and she tells him the yellow shirt, because it is her favorite, so he puts it on. Then his friend Marty tells him that the red shirt is his favorite, and Pete puts that one on too. Pete’s brother Bob likes the blue shirt, and Pete puts that one on too. Pretty soon EVERYONE is giving their opinion of what Pete should wear, and he is following EVERYONE’s advice and putting EVERYTHING on!! Of course Pete looks just plain silly, and he is also very hot with all those clothes on. He decides to go home to change his clothes, and this time he decides what he’s going to wear. In the end, Pete also decides that what really matters is being yourself . . . so if you want to be cool, just be you! I like the message of this book, and I think kids who love Pete the Cat will love this one too.
Posted by: Mary
Starting school can be stressful for some children. If you are looking for a fun introduction to the school day and to lighten the mood, check out Ollie’s School Day. It is a question and answer book that follows Ollie through a day of school. Each set of questions includes three silly suggestions followed by the correct one. Will Ollie wear a bathing suit, a space suit, a police officer’s uniform or a pair of pants and a shirt to school? It’s sure to have kids laughing at the crazy suggestions of what Ollie will do throughout the day. While listening and laughing, young readers won’t realize they are learning how to behave at school. If you are looking for other silly school stories with a similar format, pair it with Saltzberg’s Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? Or Milgrim’s Eddie Gets Ready for School.
Posted by: Liz
Penelope couldn’t be more excited to start school! She’s even chosen an extraordinary colorful outfit to wear for her first day. Her best friend Tiny started school last year and he instructs Penelope to choose a plainer outfit in order to fit in. Tiny then explains what Penelope should bring for lunch and what to choose for show-and-tell. Penelope and Tiny have entirely different opinions and in the end she must decide whether to take Tiny’s advice or be true to herself.
This is a perfect story to share with children who are just starting school. The repetition of text encourages participation with young readers and Sue Cornelison’s bright, exuberant illustrations will delight readers of all ages.
Posted by: Katie
Instead of counting sheep at night, Dani counts all the times she’s been happy. She is especially happy when she thinks about her new schoolbag, because she is so excited for her first day of school. It will be a new chapter in Dani’s happy life! And, as it turns out, there are many happy times spent in Dani’s new classroom and with her new best friend, Ella. But the school year brings some unhappiness, too. Ella moves away midway through the year, which makes Dani very sad. Dani is reminded of other times of unhappiness in her life, too, like when her mother died when she was very young. Dani misses Ella terribly and things look fairly bleak, but as Dani begins to snatch up little opportunities for happiness – like new pet hamsters and new friends at school – and to think about all of her happy memories, Dani’s life once more becomes a happy one.
Don’t let the size of this book fool you – it is 134 pages, but there is a lot of white space and an abundance of illustrations, making it perfect as a first chapter book for early readers. This book touches on two different sad events – the death of a parent and a best friend moving away. While these events are never trivialized, the book itself is not a sad book. It is mainly a book about resilience and about keeping on the sunny side of life. It is about how love from family, friends, and your own self can provide you with an inner reserve of happiness to draw from when bad things happen in life.
Posted by: Parry
Complete this rhyme:
Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play
Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day
I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly
and we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…
You chose “cupcake”, didn’t you? No? What about “French fries?” Not that either? Ok, I’ll bet you chose “meatball!” Well, in the delightfully fun picture book Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, a young slice of peanut butter toast tries all of those options and then some to round out his rhyming request for a new friend. Peanut Butter is new in town and his mom sends him out to make some friends. Along the way he is rebuffed by the likes of a hamburger, egg, alphabet soup and more before finally finding an ideal match in, you guessed it, Jelly.
This sweet story of friendship and acceptance is illustrated with photographs of three dimensional objects manipulated on a bright outdoor backdrop. Each inanimate food item is brought to life simply with the addition of wire arms and legs. One particularly adorable moment occurs when Peanut Butter encounters Hamburger as he struggles to walk his “dogs.” Terry Border’s clever and thoughtfully laid out scenes are silly enough to make readers of all ages smile and want to flip through the pages time and time again. Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners who will get a big kick out of the mismatched food pairings throughout. “Peanut butter and hamburger? Noooooo!”
Posted by: Staci
It’s the end of August, and school is starting (or has already started!) everywhere in the country. Starting school can be busy and chaotic, and not a little bit stressful. What’s the best way to combat that? A light, fun, cheerful book!
10-year-old Gladys Gatsby loves to cook — but her parents don’t care ANYTHING about good food. They prefer badly-microwaved things that are simultaneously overcooked, mushy, raw and rock-hard-crunchy. Gladys has to sneak around and cook delectable dishes (like creme brulee!) behind her parents’ backs, but nothing stays a secret forever. When disaster strikes and her parents forbid her to do any cooking (or reading about cooking or watching T.V. shows about cooking) whatsoever, her life seems ruined (and a lot less tasty).
Little does Gladys know it, but things are about to look up for her. A fabulous new teacher, Ms. Quincy, assigns her class at school to write an essay on their hopes for the future, to be submitted to the New York Standard’s state-wide essay contest. Due to a series of misunderstandings and erroneous assumptions, Gladys’ essay is misplaced and is assumed to be an application for a job — the job of restaurant critic for the New York Standard!
How will Gladys — who lives in a suburb an hour away from New York, has no transportation, and, let’s not forget, is forbidden by her parents to have anything to do with cooking — manage to get her reviews written? Who can she rely on to help her? Gladys discovers that she has more friends — young and old — than she thought she did, and makes other friends where she would never have expected to.
All Four Stars is a rollicking good read, with fun characters, a delightful setting, and just enough zaniness to be appealing while remaining realistic. It’s just the sort of book to leave a smile on your face after a long, hard day. If only every copy came with a serving or two of the delicious desserts that Gladys makes — THAT would be perfect!
Posted by: Sarah
Sometimes you think you know all about someone, but it turns out that people will sometimes surprise you in good ways and in bad. When Ginger plans her birthday party, her mother tells her that she must invite all of the girls in her class, including Lyla Browning. Lyla Browning is a little different; some might call her “weird”, especially if you never get to know her. She likes things like tarantulas and ladybugs and nature, and she carries a magnifying glass in her pocket.
When Ginger’s birthday finally arrives, her friends from her class all come, and so does Lyla. Much to her surprise, her friends aren’t exactly on their best behavior. They use the Pin the Tail on the Donkey on each other and don’t want to even try her coconut and pineapple birthday cake. Ginger is also surprised that she and Lyla have some things in common, like for instance ladybugs. Lyla brings her a beautiful homemade gift of a nest made from paper, tinsel, ribbon, and string, and in the center are two speckled malted milk eggs. This is Ginger’s favorite gift, and eventually Lyla becomes Ginger’s favorite friend. What a wonderful surprise!
Posted by: Mary
On the very day that Mr. Button goes to the animal shelter to pick out a dog, Mrs. Button goes to a pet store to buy a cat. The two pets will have to share a room in their new home. At first it seems they will get along well; Dog lives on one side of the room and Cat lives on the other side. But dogs and cats are not the same and they quickly discover that they have very different interests, habits and living styles. It’s not very long at all before they begin to go out of their way to make life miserable for each other. They even resort to trying to get one another one in trouble with Mr. and Mrs. Button. Finally, Dog and Cat decide to build a wall to totally separate their room.
Now life has become nice and quiet for Dog and Cat – and boring. They realize that they miss each other. Just as they are finding new ways to get along they hear a strange howling outside their door. OH NO! Could it be that Mr. and Mrs. Button have brought home yet another pet? Sure enough, Dog and Cat have to share their room some with someone new. This just will not do and they come up with a perfect solution. Dogs and cats most definitely can get along!
Posted by: Wendy
What would you do if your name decided your destiny? Some might be thrilled with the potential of a powerful name. On the other hand, being named after a cow’s rear end would make me feel rather blue. That is the case for Rump who lives in The Kingdom where names mean everything. Rump is constantly picked on due to his name. Rump knows in his heart that his mother gave him a wonderful name, but she died before she was able to communicate it fully.
On his twelfth birthday, Rump discovers an old spinning wheel in his woodpile. The wheel belonged to his mother and he desperately wants to keep the item since it was once hers. Rump tries spinning the wheel against his Gran’s wishes and learns there is a magical outcome. In this land magic can be dangerous and Rump quickly gets himself into a heap of trouble. Rump has to find a way to make things right while he also attempts to learn his whole name.
Many children know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but Shurtliff has created a marvelous story that will keep readers engaged as they learn Rump’s side of the classic fairy tale. What really makes this story magical is how the author is able to get readers to root for a normally disliked character.
Posted by: Katie
Nothing says “Summer” like a good old fashioned family road trip! Now take that family road trip, throw in a reformed juvenile delinquent, a feisty waitress, an ornery auto mechanic, and an introspective border collie, put them on a big yellow school bus, and send them off to rescue a puppy. What do you get? You get Road Trip, a fun summer read by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen!
Road Trip is the first collaborative effort by prolific author Gary Paulsen and his sculptor son Jim. Similar to a game of Exquisite Corpse, the father-son duo took turns writing chapters and sending them back and forth to one another. As they did, the story and characters grew in ways neither could have expected. Despite what might sound like a disjointed writing method, the Paulsens manage to maintain a cohesive feel to this short novel. Quirky characters abound throughout this madcap story of a father and son struggling to understand one another. Road Trip is a perfect quick read for vacationing 5th graders and up. Perhaps it will even inspire an impromptu road trip or two along the way.
Posted by: Staci
In the Children’s area we have a special section of picture books called K-3rd. This section contains books that would be great read alouds for children in Kindergarten through grade 3; especially in a large group like a classroom. Occasionally, we also have picture books that are more suitable for older children due to themes, complex language, or that do not work well as read alouds for a large group. Because there are not many books like this in the picture book collection, we do not have a designated area for them and they are shelved alphabetically with all of the other picture books. These books are often high quality literary works that deserve attention, but do not always find an audience because most people only look for picture books for young children. We recently acquired a book like this called A Lion in Paris that I hope does not get overlooked. This oversized picture book that reads vertically like a calendar rather than horizontally tells the story of a lion who is bored with life in the grasslands so he sets off to find “a job, love, and a future” in Paris. Through short sentences and expressive mixed media illustrations, Alemagna manages to paint a picture of a very despondent lion, a beautiful, yet aloof city and how to find your place in the world wherever you may be. The lion visits several famous Parisian landmarks including the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa smile at him, Monmontre where he helps an older woman down the many steps and the River Seine to look at his reflection. The lion goes from being stranger in Paris to loving the city so much that he decides to stay there permanently and becomes the famous lion statue at the Place Denfer-Rochereau. This book would be perfect to share with a child interested in Paris or planning a trip there, a child struggling to fit in, or anyone looking for something a little different in terms of format or storyline.
Posted by: Kelly
One of my toddler’s favorite books right now is My Bus by Byron Barton. My son has taken quite a liking to Joe, the bus driver, and his dogs. In this story, the reader meets Joe and learns about his job picking up dogs and cats and driving them to their destinations. Joe has a busy day making lots of stops and dropping animals off at the boat, train, and plane. Besides for the bus, little vehicle lovers can see the animals sail, ride and fly away. The simple illustrations and minimal text appeal to the youngest readers. For slightly older readers, it is a nice introduction to addition and subtraction.
Posted by: Liz
In Moonsilver, the first book of the series The Unicorn’s Secret, we meet Heart Avamir, a young girl who was abandoned at birth and raised by Simon Pratt, a demanding and unloving guardian. Despite this, Heart grows to be a kind, gentle, and hard working girl. When she meets an abandoned and starving white mare in the fields one day, she is instantly devoted and fights to keep the mare. Heart wakes up extra early to gather food for the horse, and enlists the help of the village healer and her only friend to help her nurse the horse back to health. When the mare begins to regain strength, Heart discovers that she is going to have a foal. But the foal turns out to be no ordinary horse, and in order to protect them both Heart must set out on a great adventure.
This beginning chapter book makes a great fantasy introduction, and is also recommended to young horse lovers. This would also make a good read aloud for children not yet ready to read chapters on their own.
Posted by: Parry
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This month, Kelly shares the book Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems, by Patrick J. Lewis: