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Time for another post that justifies my current job. As you may or may not know, as Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager I buy all the adult books. Which is to say, they apparently make them for people over the age of 12 these days. Who knew? Happily, there are plenty of connections to the wide and wonderful world of children’s literature in the grown-up book universe. Here are a couple of interesting recent examples you might enjoy:
Though she’s best known in our world as a mighty successful picture book author (with a killer ping-pong backswing) Rosenthal’s that rare beast that manages to straddle writing for both adults and kids. The last time she wrote an out-and-out book for the grown-up set, however, was ten years ago (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life). This next one’s a memoir of sorts (I say “of sorts” because the subtitle belies this statement). Here’s the description:
“… each piece of prose is organized into classic subjects such as Social Studies, Music, and Language Arts. Because textbook would accurately describe a book with a first-of-its-kind interactive text messaging component. Because textbook is an expression meaning “quintessential”—Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook AKR. Because if an author’s previous book has the word encyclopedia in the title, following it up with a textbook would be rather nice.”
Sorry Permanent Press Publishing Company. This cover doesn’t do justice the myriad children’s book references parading about inside. I read all the reviews and tried to find the best description (the official one is lame). Library Journal‘s was the one that piqued my interest best. As they said:
“Jonathan Tucker lives with his dog Nip on 20 acres on Long Island, having left his job with a high-powered law firm three years earlier after his wife and two children were killed in a traffic accident. Now his mentor, a senior partner, asks for help. The firm’s biggest client, billionaire Ben Baum of Ozone Industries, has died in London under suspicious circumstances. A descendant of L. Frank Baum of Wizard of Oz fame, Ben had been obsessed with fantasy, in particular the works of Baum, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. Attached to his will, he left behind an enigmatic letter, prefaced by runes and filled with puzzles hinting at forces of evil arrayed against him. It’s up to Jonathan and his team to unravel what may be a deadly conspiracy with a host of suspects, each one poised to benefit from Ben’s premature death. . . . Readers may enjoy the kid-lit nomenclature—characters include Alice, Charlotte (who spins webs), Dorothy, Eloise, Madeline, Herr Roald Dahlgrens (a “peach of a man”), Frank Dixon (the Hardy Boys), Peter Abelard, and the Baums—and may not mind the sometimes too-evident craft, e.g., characters who “tell their story” at length and dialog laden with exposition.”
Admit it. It sounds fun. But that cover . . . I mean, did they just hire someone who just read the title and found the nearest Getty Images of crows? No points there.
I feel like it’s been a while since one of these round-ups included a book about a picture book author/illustrator. This one counts. In this story, said picture book creator has lost her inspiration. Other stuff happens too, but with my tunnel vision that was pretty much all I picked up on.
Part of the joy of my job is buying the “cozies” i.e. sweet little murder mystery novels (usually in paperback). You would not believe the series out there. There are quilting mysteries, yoga mysteries, jam mysteries, bed and breakfast mysteries (that one makes sense to me), you name it. The newest series I’ve found? Little Free Library mysteries. I kid you not.
As for other mysteries . . .
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if this is actually a book about a murder that occurs at Misselthwaite Manor. And the answer is . . . . it’s not. No, it takes place at a book-themed resort where a secret garden has been created for the guests. How do folks die? Deadly herbs!! That gets points from me.
Oh ho! This one almost sneaked past me the other day. I read the review, dutifully put it in my order cart, and just as I was moving on to the next book my eye happened to catch the name of the author. Marjorie?! The same Marjorie who writes those magnificent yearly round-ups of Jewish kids in books at Tablet Magazine at the end of each year (to say nothing of her posts throughout the other seasons)? That’s her. The book’s getting great reviews too, so go, Marjorie, go!
So here’s the problem with this book. It should be in the humor section alongside the Amy Sedaris title Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People. Instead, it somehow ended up legitimately with a “Craft” Dewey Decimal Number, a fact I’m going to have to rectify at work tomorrow. Not that you couldn’t actually do the crafts if you wanted, but the book’s far funnier than it is practical. No one knows what to do with the thing when they see it, of course. So why am I including it here? Because darned if the author isn’t Ross MacDonald, the author/illustrator of fine picture books everywhere. I did my due diligence to make sure it was actually the same guy. Yup. It sure is. So Macmillan, about that DD# . . .
And finally, just because I thought it was cute . . .
Now someone go out and write a picture book of the same name for all our budding scientists out there.
As we begin a season of reflection and celebration, we are pleased to share some of our favorite books on thankfulness and being grateful that will help young readers on their journey to understanding gratitude.
Denise Mealy | The Children’s Book Review | February 10, 2015 Uni the Unicorn By Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Brigette Barrager Age Range: 3-7 Hardback: 48 pages Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers ISBN: 978-0-375-98208-8 What to expect: Unicorns, Fairy Tales, Believing, Friendship Uni the Unicorn is an adorable tale about believing, no matter how fantastical […]
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld Chronicle Books 3/01/2015 978-1-4521-2699-9 40 pages Age 3+ . . “Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. This book is about endless wishes.
“Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld have been called the “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers of children’s books” and here they have combined their extraordinary talent to create a compendium of wishes—wishes for curiosity and wonder, friendship and strength, for joyous days and quiet moments.
What will you wish for?”[book jacket]
Review I Wish You More is the perfect book for a (grand)parent to give their (grand)child for any occasion or no occasion at all. I Wish You More is also the perfect book to give the child heading off to college, summer camp, or any other get-away.
I wish you more can than knot.
Beginning with two children racing with the wind, a kite flying high above, the text reads: “I wish you more ups than downs.” Each spread continues with a wish and an image expressing that wish. Children will understand most of the test and each of the images. Lichtenheld has created a multicultural set of children, which make the spreads that more adorable—if this is possible.
I Wish You More is simply a wonderful, joyous, high-spirited, positive celebration of what a wish can do for those who receive them, and for those who give them. There really is not much more to say about this beautiful picture book. Read I Wish You More to a young child and they can learn the benefits of kindness and well wishes toward other humans. And, I believe, you can help your little one with their self-esteem. I Wish You More would have been in my office and read to every child.
I wish you more stories than stars.
Each spread is one wish—one special wish with an equally special illustration. Narrated by the voice of a parent, I Wish You More concludes by stating it contains all these wishes, “. . . because you are everything I could wish for . . . and more.”
**Chronicle Books is making two posters from the book available for anyone who would like them. This may be for a limited time, I do not know, so go HEREand get your set of two. They are perfect for any child’s room. There is also an activity kit for teachers HERE.
Chocolate chip…white chocolate macadamia nut…peanut butter…oatmeal raisin…sugar… Yep, we’re getting hungry too, given that laundry list of fabulous cookies! What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
I love making a storytime theme out of things that I personally enjoy – it keeps things fresh after your 100th storytime, not to mention I think that your enthusiasm really shines through for a topic in which you’re personally invested. So, if you’re like me, you can try a cookie-themed storytime:
It’s a special treat to have Elizabeth Bard contribute her family’s top five favorites to The Children’s Book Review. An American journalist and author based in France, her first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes has been a New York Times and international bestseller, a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick, and the recipient of the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best First Cookbook (USA). Bard’s writing on food, art, travel and digital culture has appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Wired, Harper’s Bazaar and The Huffington Post. Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her thoughtful personal reflections on raising her son abroad with us.
Story time at our house is fun time, bed time, but it is also the site of a good-natured – but genuine – culture war. From the moment I moved to Paris to be with my French husband, I knew our children would be bilingual. As our lives have unfolded here, it’s become clear that most of my son’s childhood will be spent in France, worlds away from Sesame Street, Twinkies and other staples of my American childhood.
Augustin is almost three now. In addition to speaking English with me, and on vacations with his grandparents, books are the most effective tool I have to make sure he becomes – and stays – fluent in English, and is introduced to the different world view that creeps into the stories we choose to tell. There’s a part of all this that is inherently selfish: I want him to love these books because I love them. If he couldn’t – or didn’t want to – read in English, it would be like sewing up half my soul. A piece of his mother, and one of his cultures, would become unknowable to him.
Here are a few of our early and current favorites:
One of Augustin’s very first words was “Poon” – shorthand for his favorite book. Spoon is a wonderful “the grass is always greener” story of a little spoon who thinks his friends, knife, fork and chopsticks have it so much better than him. He never gets to twirl spaghetti. He never gets to cut bread. His mother thoughtfully reminds him that knife can’t swim around in a bowl with the Cheerios, and chopsticks never get to dive into bowl of vanilla ice-cream.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children | April 7, 2009
We are delighted to feature Andrea Scher’s Five Family Favorites. Andrea is an artist, photographer and life coach. Through her award-winning blog Superhero Journal and e-courses, Mondo Beyondo and Superhero Photo, she inspires us to find our passions and dream big. A supermom (no capes, just courage) to two adorable boys named Ben and Nico, you can often find her on her kitchen floor trying to get them to do superhero leaps for the camera. Andrea is also the co-author of wonderful book called Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters Guide to Shooting from the Heart.Registration is open for the fall session of Mondo Beyondo now!
I am big fan of all things Amy Krouse Rosenthal, but this book is one of my favorites of her creations. My son Ben has always been a picky eater, so this tale of a little pea who didn’t want to eat her candy (the equivalent of vegetables in the pea world) made Ben hysterical with laughter. We even filmed one of these giggly episodes to remember it forever. Such a sweet book.
Ages 4-5 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 28, 2005
Every morning, the first thing my toddler says is, “Mama llama? Boop? Mama Llama?” We have read this book so many times that we have all committed it to memory. Even my 5-year-old can “read” it to Nico and he doesn’t know how to read! It is an endearing book about a llama that asks each of his animal friends who their mama is.
From the author of Little Pea, Spoon, and Duck! Rabbit! comes a uniquely magical tale of Uni the Unicorn. Uni is the only unicorn who believes little girls are real! Lovely illustrations by Brigette Barrager make this a wonderful and memorable read. Books mentioned in this post Uni the Unicorn Amy Krouse Rosenthal New Hardcover [...]
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Delphine Durand
As the first few weeks of Back to School roll out for families attempting to adjust to school schedules and the new “order of the day”, an ABC book came to mind for young readers. And it prompts the question, “Did you ever wonder WHO put the 26 letters of the alphabet in ABC ORDER for countless generations that have enunciated them in sing song fashion?
New York Times best selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of “Little Pea” and “One of Those Days”, does.
Like many other things in life, it all depends on how you look at things and Ms. Rosenthal has chosen to roll out the alphabet in a refreshingly imaginative way.
It’s not JUST the same ole ABC’s. It’s their STORY, and don’t kids love stories, or at least one VIEW of how they came to be, well, in ABC order?
Enter Al Pha in the time of long ago of course. In point of fact this is the VERY long ago as in the time of the invention of FIRE, the WHEEL and SHADOWS (might THIS reference to SHADOWS be a nod of the head to Plato’s cave theory relating to the allegory of knowledge? This could lead to a VERY interesting turn in the story telling road). We’re talking VERY olden times here!
Anyway, the king announces a contest for the organization of the letters of the alphabet that had just been thrown together willy-nilly! The lure of being famous AND remembered “for all time” prompts Al to enter with both feet. SHH! Private BET time as Al tells NO ONE of his plan. Remember the BET! Al collects his burlap bag of letters from the palace and is off and running on an organizational quest. The easiest letter to come first is A. A is of course, for Al!
And what follows is a very interesting take on the progression of the letters AND what prompts their groupings. Could a bee casually buzzing by Al be responsible for its place as #2 in the list of 26? And what about E and F closely resembling each other? Could they be TWINS? A snake’s hiss and S is assembled, but not before the reaction of Al with an “Arrrrrrrrrr”, that precedes the S! As Al nears the end, it’s a literal “toss up” of X and Y to see in which order they will be arranged.
Dragging the ABC burlap bag BACK to the king, Al and the king wind up in a duet, SAYING AND SINGING the letters that tons of school kids have recited in the same way. Al is a shoe-in for fame.
So, Al Pha won the BET! What a neat tying up of loose ends, Ms. Rosenthal. AND it’s the end of the story, but not of Al and Ms. Rosenthal’s cunning take on the history of the ABC’s.
And hey, Delphine Durand’s “thumb like”, red-panted Al is perfect for a “Where is Thumbkin?” illustration. But THAT is ANOTHER story!
I spent easily half my week writing a picture book which is not working and which at this point I hate a little bit :) Why is it that an idea which seems so good when it starts out in your head can turn out so badly when you get it on paper? I still feel like there's a kernel of good story in there somewhere, but darned if I can find it right now :)
Ah, well, at least I have a lovely, fun picture book (not mine :)) to share with you today!
Title: You Are (Not) Small Written By: Anna Kang Illustrated By: Christopher Weyant Two Lions, August 2014, Fiction
Suitable For Ages: 2-6
Themes/Topics: Differences, Perspective, Humor
Opening: "'You are small.' 'I am not small. You are big.' 'I am not big. See?'"
Brief Synopsis: Two creatures (whose fur, noses, and expressions suggest that they are indeed closely related) argue over who is small and who is big. But it's really all in how you look at it :)
Why I Like This Book: This book is short and simple, yet it manages to convey an important message with humor. I dare you not to laugh at the end :) In 91 words, it manages to get across the idea that we can be big and small at the same time, and in spite of our perceived differences we have much in common. The art is appealing, and the characters' expressions speak volumes. For anyone who has ever felt too little (or too big), this is the perfect story.
This month's little peek at the current children's book trends on The Children's Book Review showcases Christmas books for kids, books on mindfulness and some best selling young adult books, as well as a wonderful literacy resource on where to find free ebooks for children.
Autographed Shirt Benefits First Book
Check out the cool t-shirt that Amy Krouse Rosenthal and other New York Times bestselling authors created to benefit First Book at our second annual Book Bash celebration.
Six-Word Memoir Book Trailer
Stop over to the Olive Reader blog to watch and enjoy the latest “book trailer” (like a movie trailer, but for books!) for It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, edited by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser.
Bookstore Night in Buenos Aires Encourages Reading
Check out NPR’s story about Buenos Aires’ annual Noche de las Librerias — Bookstore Night. The city closes a main avenue, and replaces cars and trucks with sofas and chairs for people to lounge in with books from nearby bookstores.
Okay, it's Friday. You've been working hard all week. Your brain is fried. Here's a little brainteaser pick-me-up to get you through the day. What I like about this book is how unbelievably simple it is in concept and so darn cute! A marketer's dream, it even comes with it's own website. "Duck!Rabbit!" came out last Spring, so maybe you are already familiar with it. It won tons of awards and was on the New York Times bestseller list. But hey, that makes it even more fun to revisit, especially since Easter is right around the corner. Written and illustrated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, this book asks the BIG QUESTION...are you a DuckPerson or a RabbitPerson?
Although this book is just one simple line drawing, Tom Lichtenheld's illustrations are quite colorful and fun. He was trained as an art director, but fell into the picture book world purely by accident. Inspired by a letter from his nephew asking him to draw him a picture of a pirate, Tom ended up drawing 20 pages of pirates which eventually became the book "Everything I Know About Pirates."
His latest book is out this Spring and is called "Bridget's Beret." A story about a little girl who is an artist, this one was inspired by his neice. When Bridget accidently loses her beloved beret, she gets a serious case of artist's block. You can see the adorable sketches for the first half of the book here. His website is also worth a look. Full of information on his process.
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Paul Schmid
$17.99, 9-12, 80 pages
Funny, irreverent and hopelessly cute, Rosenthal's book is a gem from start to finish.
Matched with the whimsical line drawings of Schmid, her poems capture all the charm and naivety of being little, and, in tone, remind me of sketches in Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss 1952 classic "A Hole is to Dig."
Every poem in the collection is a delight to read aloud, but most you won't want to recite without sharing the pictures, as there are lots of little details that add to the fun.
Take this funny twist on Shakespeare's line, "A Rose by Any Other Name," a little poem about intestinal gas.
Beside the poem, a girl stands pigeon-toed with a look of dread on her face for what just happened, as a skunk looks on at her from the next page, smitten by her malodorous mistake.
It begins, "In Spain it's called a pedo / In Hungary you'd pass a fing / In Dutch you'd say en wind lateen / When your bottom sings," and ends, "No matter where you come from / Or what language that you speak / It's just really really funny / To hear a tushy squeak."
Throughout the book, there are clever little plays on words, and smart collaborations between verse and pictures.
On one two-page spread, a scientist in oversized glasses points to a Periodic Table of how to behave. Above him the title reads, "For Those Who Periodically Need Reminding About Table Manners,'" and to his right, a chart of atomic numbers list the manners 1-13, each with its own symbol, such as "Bu" for "Refrain from burping at the table."
Some poems play out in short comic strips and one even comes with a funny warning.
Leading into a poem about spoiled children, a two-page spread shows a path
Every morning I walk my dog Pinot on the trails around my town. I do a lot of thinking during these walks, and often write book reviews or stories in my head while Pinot eyes squirrels and sniffs things. This morning I was thinking about how things look different, depending on your point of view. So many of our problems exist because we refuse to consider the fact that there is another point of view. Here is a little video of a story that beautifully shows us that what might be a duck for one person is clearly a rabbit for another. The video is from the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. I loved this book and am delighted that Chronicle books made this video for those of us who don't have a copy of the book. My review of the book is below the video. Enjoy!
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrations by Tom Litchtenheld
Ages 4 to 8
Chronicle Books, 2009, 978-08118-6865-5
Have you ever been looking up the clouds when you saw a cloud that looked like a cat? And did your best friend tell you that the cloud looked like a car and not a cat? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then this is a title for you. On the pages of this book you are going to meet – in a manner of speaking – two people who look at the same object and who see two very different things. When one person looks at the illustration on the page, they see a duck, and when the other person looks at the same illustration, they see a rabbit. Hmmm. What an interesting situation.
With splendid humor and creativity May Krouse Rosenthal, who brought us Little Pea and Little Hoot, explores the idea that there are times when there is no right answer. Sometimes we just have to accept that someone else sees things in a different way, and that is perfectly all right.
With wonderful artwork and a memorable text, this is a picture book that readers of all ages will enjoy.
Hm, how do I describe this fabulous book to you all and serve it justice? I'm going to let author Amy KrouseRosenthal tell you because it's just plain cute and sums it up perfectly. This is on the front flap of the book:
Inside you will find stories, short poems, lists, palindromes, word games and random observations. Some parts are happy, some sad-ish, some silly, some serious, some crunchy, some soft in the center.
This book is full of stuff I've always wondered about...
- Did Miss Mary Mack have friends who liked other colors?
- Who hid something under the tooth fairy's pillow when she was a little girl.
- How do moms always know when you're about to sneak a cookie?
- Could everything important about the world be summarized in a poem that rhymes?
You can open the book anywhere and read. So the beginning could be the end, and the end could be the beginning. But I guess the middle is always the middle.
signed- Amy K. R
PS. Aren't Paul's drawings the best?!
Yes they are!! Paul Schmid's loose child like ink drawings are just screaming out to be colored. I can tell you if I had this book as a child I would be pulling out the colored pencils for sure. But as an adult I will just pour over the images over and over because they have so much life and movement in them. Sometimes I'm convinced they are actually moving- they are that animated.
I enjoyed this book so much that it's going as my sidebar pick for May as soon as I get off my "duff" and change it out. =o)
This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 3, 2011. It is the Year of the Rabbit—the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The rabbit represents hope, and it is widely shared that “People born under the sign of the rabbit are gentle, sensitive, modest, and merciful and have strong memory. They like to communicate with others in a humorous manner. They cannot bear dull life, so they are good at creating romantic or interesting spice…”
The picture books listed below, offer solid introductions into the Chinese New Year and are then followed by some good-old bunny tales to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
Bringing in the New Year
by Grace Lin
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 34 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 8, 2008)
Publisher’s synopsis: This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud.
Don’t listen to us gab about the newest picture book from Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace…check out the three starred reviews for THIS PLUS THAT!
“Teachers could use the book, perhaps paired with Betsy Franco’s picture book Mathematickles! (2003), to introduce math equations or to inspire students to create their own verbal equations. But first, just read this unusual book aloud and let it work its magic.” ~ Booklist (starred review)
“Corace’s tidy figures echo with prim grace the gentle theme of the book, that life can be parsed into the simplest terms that recombine to create something joyous.” ~ Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)