Honoring Martin Luther King and Others

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an army to lead a civil rights movement.  As we honor Martin Luther King Jr., I’m reminded of several books published this year that show it truly was an army of people making a difference.

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Have you ever heard of Georgia Gilmore?  I hadn’t either until last November when I read Pies from Nowhere:  How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freeman.  The blurb about the book says “When the bus boycott began in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Park’s arrest, Georgia Gilmore knew just what to do.  She organized a group of of women, the Club from Nowhere, who cooked and baked to fund-raise for the boycott.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. used his words and voice to make a difference.  Georgia Gilmore used her cooking.  Read this book and learn the nickname Martin Luther King, Jr. gave Georgia; but don’t only focus on the story.  The illustrations are as wonderful as the story.

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Memphis, Martin and the Mountain and the Mountaintop:  The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie soars.  Info from the front of book, “Author Alice Faye Duncan based the character of Lorraine Jackson on a teacher who participated in the Memphis Sanitation Strike as a child.  Using a riveting combination of poetry and prose.  She reveals the inspiring story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final stand.”  I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know anything about the sanitation strike; nor did I know Coretta Scott King led the strike days after her husband’s assassination.  The book says it best.  “Despite her broken heart, Mrs. King and members of SCLC helped to keep her husband’s pledge on April 8, 1968.”

I’ve got a lot to learn.

The Hen Who Sailed Around the World: A True Story

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This week at the library, I did an Egg Drop Challenge with kindergarten – 2nd graders.  I didn’t realize how loud we were until after the program when my coworkers gave me the look.  The one of fear that somebody might ask what was going on and complain about the noise.  Then, they would have to explain kids were throwing eggs in the library and the loudest one in the group was the librarian.

We were laughing out of the gate at this program.  Days before a a new book showed up at the library.  It begged to be read to the group before starting the messy fun.  The Hen Who Sailed Around the World:  A True Story by Guirec Soudee is not to be missed.

As for the Egg Drop Challenge, it was so much fun for the kids and myself.  I’m going to do it again this summer with 3rd-5th graders.  In the meantime, I’ll be putting this book on display and recommending it often.

 

Mock Caldecott 2019

In years past, I’ve had a Mock Caldecott with my daughter and her friends.  They’re no longer interested in picking the best illustrated books of the year.  That’s ok.  They’ve replaced the interest with other creative endeavors.  But I love picture books; and I love hearing what people think will be the next award winner.  So I invited my coworkers to join me in a Mock Caldecott.  If you’re not a coworker and want to participate; you can join the fun.  Put your five favorites from the books listed below in the comments by Friday, January 18.

On January 19, I’ll tally the results and post a smaller list where you can vote for your favorite.  I’ll tally those votes on Friday, January 25.  I’ll announce our Mock Caldecott winner on Sunday, January 27.  Monday morning the real committee will announce their winner and honors.  Who’s in?

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Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora

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Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

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Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

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Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

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What If. . . by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato

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Zola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

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A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith

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Drawn Together by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat

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Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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We Are Grateful:  Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrel and illustrated by Frane Lessac

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The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated Ekua Holmes

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Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

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Seeing Into Tomorrow:  Haiku by Richard Wright Biography and illustrations by Nina Crews

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What Do You Do With a Voice Like That?  The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

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Imagine by Raul Colon

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They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

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A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

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Nothing Stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Barbara McClintock

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Hello Hello By Brendan Wenzel

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Between the Lines:  How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Bryan Collier

 

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

 

 

Best Books for Kids and Teens 2018

I hope to blog more about books for children and young adults in 2019.  Below are favorites I read this year.  I’m sure I’m missing some fabulous titles; but there’s only one me and so many amazing books published each year.

Picture Books

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Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

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Imagine! By Raul Colon

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Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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You’re Snug With Me by Chitra Soundar and illustrated by Poonam Mistry

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Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

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The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfkekotte

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The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van T Rudd

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This Book is Red:  Books That Drive Kids Crazy! by Beck and Matt Stanton

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A House That Once Was? by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith

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Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets:  A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

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Night Job by Karen Hesse and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

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My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille

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A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui

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Potato Pants by Laurie Keller

 

Beginning Readers

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Please, No More Nuts by Jonathan Fenske

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Mr. Monkey Visits a School by Jeff Mack

 

Biographies for Kids

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Pies From Nowhere:  How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freedom

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Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez and illustrated by Felicita Sala

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So Tall Within:  Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary Schmidt and illustrated by Daniel Minter

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Sisters and Champions:  The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

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The Secret Kingdom:  Nek Chand, a Changing India and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

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Between the Lines:  How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated Bryan Collier

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Girl Running:  Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimental and illustrated by Micha Archer

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What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of the Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Christ Barton and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

 

Nonfiction for Kids

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We Are Grateful by Traci Sorrell and illustrated by Frane Lessac

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Otis and Will Discover The Deep:  The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Katherine Roy

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The Brilliant Deep:  Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

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Pass Go and Collect $200:  The Real Story of How Monopoly was Invented by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Steven Salerno

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What’s On Your Plate?  Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Christiane Engel

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Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail

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What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz and Allison Black

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Terrific Tongues by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jia Liu

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The Elephant by Jenni Desmond

 

Middle Grade Fiction

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Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

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Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Young Adult Fiction

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Brave Enough by Kati Gardner

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Breakout by Kate Messner

 

Young Adult Graphic Novels

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Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

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Princess and Dress Maker by Jen Wang

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Speak:  The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Emily Carroll

 

Outlier

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Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

 

 Perfect for Storytime

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There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor by Wade Bradford and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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Mad, Mad Bear! by Kimberly Gee

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How do You Take a Bath? by Kate McMullan and illustrated by Sydney Hanson

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There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Greg Abbott

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Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson

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Play This Book by Jessica Young and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

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Don’t Blink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by David Roberts

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The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight

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Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

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Old Hat by Emily Gravett

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The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

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I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep by Dev Petty and illustrated Mike Boldt

 

The Uphill Climb for Multicultural Characters in Children’s Books

Today a friend posted this on Facebook.

“For this holiday season, and for quite some time, our family is only buying children’s books that focus on non-white main characters for ourselves and as gifts. We are only bringing multi-racial and multi-cultural books into our house, and yours. I encourage you to do the same. Also, take note of how much thought and effort this takes. Then imagine if you had to do this all the time. If you have a great recommendation, please comment here!”

My friend’s child is four years old so I’m highlighting picture books.  Here are some suggestions featuring African American characters.  I’ll focus on other cultures in another post.  I have read and adore each of the books below; but if I could only buy one, it would be Thank You, Omu!  It’s one of my favorite books published in 2018.

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There’s still a long way to go for children’s literature to reflect all children.  Check out The Brown Bookshelf site for more information.  It’s mission is  “designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.”

 

 

Amal Unbound – A Middle Grade Novel

My daughter is beginning middle school in the fall.  Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed is a book I would love for her to read; but she doesn’t read recommendations from me.  However, I thought she might be interested in this book because one of her favorite authors, Laurie Halse Anderson, quote on the back cover states.  “This heroic story about a girl’s struggle to become educated against overwhelming odds will open readers’ eyes and hearts.  A gorgeous and compelling read.”

She has a cousin and a friend or two who actually like for me to recommend books.  So AB, SJ, B and M this one’s for you.

ML Loved This Picture Book

Pictures After Storm

My first love were picture books; and it’s still my number one love when it comes to books.  ML’s past sitting down, snuggling and reading picture books with me.  However, I want her to appreciate picture books her whole life.  Every once in awhile, one arrives I know she will love.  Instead of insisting she read it.  I lay it on the couch.  Eventually, she picks it up and reads it.

My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille is one of these books.  ML thought it was clever and hilarious.  You will too!  A book for all ages.

Women in Science

I took a poll of friends on Facebook.  “Who is the first scientist that pops in your head besides Einstein?”  There were a variety of men named; but only two women.  Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.  My friend, Liz, who graduated from MIT response was Rosalind Franklin.  (Liz’s daughter’s name is Rosalind.)  I hadn’t heard of Rosalind Franklin.  Luckily, she was included in the book Women in Science:  50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

I’m appalled; but not surprised by what I learned.  “We should all know it was Rosalind Franklin who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, not James Watson and Francis Crick.”  For too long female scientists’ contributions have been overlooked.  Thankfully, publishers are taking notice.  A variety of beautifully illustrated biographies about female scientists have been published in the past few years.

I INSIST YOU SHARE THESE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELF.  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.

Grace Hopper:  Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu

Caroline’s Comets:  A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington

Out of School and Into Nature:  The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan

Ada Lovelace:  Poet of Science:  The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Marie Curie by Demi

 

 

Not So Different

Not So Different:  What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw and photographs by Matt Carr is a must read.  If I was in charge of the world, every third grade teacher would be required to read it to her class.

Shane answers questions kids are curious about; but may not ask out of fear of offending someone.  You know . . .  how one eats, poops showers and moves.  The crisp photographs show Shane’s just another guy who needs to do some things differently.

However, don’t wait until third grade to read it with your child.  I want it required reading in third grade because this is when children start becoming more self-conscious about appearances.

Shane is awesome.  The sooner you meet him the better.

 

Mock Newbery 2018

Last year, I read many books that were included on various Mock Newbery 2017 lists.  This year, I haven’t read as many books.  Usually, the awards are presented in January.  This year, they will be presented February 12th.  So I still have a 18 hours to read.   One’s I’ve read and finished from Mock Newbery 2018 lists are below.  I’ve tried to read around 10 books I’ve seen on many lists.  However, I only have so much time between work, home and hoursmothering.

The book I most want to win is The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  It’s a sequel; so I doubt it will.  The first book, The War That Saved My Life,  was robbed in my opinion.  It received a Newbery Honor last year.  It should have received the Gold.  Everyone I recommended this book to from age 9 to 92 loved it and couldn’t wait for the sequel.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming:  And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

 

Book I Will Finish

Undefeated:  Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

 

Books I Want to Finish

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Train I Ride by Paul Moiser

Vincent and Theo:  The Van Gogh Brothers

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary Lambert

Undefeated:  Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

Tumble and Bumble

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Siren Sisters by Dana Langer

Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth

Here We Are:  Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers is spectacular.  I want to buy a copy for everyone in the world to remind each one we are different but the same.

And we should follow the advice of Oliver’s Dad, an all-round good human.  “There are only three words you need to live by, son:  respect, consideration and tolerance.”

Pashmina

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I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions years ago.  However, this New Year’s Day I read the graphic novel Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani.  At some point each day since, I’ve remembered the quote below.

“Do not look at the dirt.  Look at the people.”

This quote is in reference to a visit to the slums in India; but I’m using it as a reminder in my daily life that people are people.  All with a story and deserving compassion.

 

Awesome Authors of the Triangle

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I’m fortunate to live in an area with so many people interested in children’s and young adult literature… including authors of fantastic books for kids and teens.  From board books to YA books, the Triangle is filled with amazing writers.  Here’s what I read from local authors published in 2017.  I’m sure there are others.  If you know of an author who published a book this year, post it in the comments.

This Little Trailblazer

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub – Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way
to a future that’s bright.
Helping the world
with their skills, smarts, and might. 
Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

 

Williams Winter

William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Chuck Groenick – Just when William is ready to fall asleep in his cozy cabin, there is a tap on his window. A chilly chipmunk asks to stay, and Will scooches over in bed. “There’s room for two–I’m sure we’ll fit.” The chipmunk is just the first in a parade of mammals, each bigger than the last, until the bed is full. Then a note is slipped beneath the door: “Do you have room for just one more?” William tugs the door to see who’s there . . . only to find a great big BEAR! Is there enough space to spare? Will the other animals be willing to share?

Kids will delight at each new guest’s arrival and enjoy counting along as the animals keep scooching over to fit in William’s bed. Linda Ashman’s clever rhymes set up each page turn with suspense and humor, and the expressions on Chuck Groenink’s characters are perfect. This is must reading for the dark time of year when everyone wants to hibernate!
Jada Jones

Jada Jones:  Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton – Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.

When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?  (publisher’s site)

 

Unicorn in Barn

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn and illustrated by Rebecca Green – For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.  One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.  When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.  A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turn. (publisher’s site)

 

Nyxia

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen – What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?
 Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.  Forever.  Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. (publisher’s site)

What’s Coming in 2018?

I’m eager to see what is published by authors in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill next year.  Most especially, Brave Girl by Kati Gardner.  It’s being published in the fall of 2018 by Flux Books.  I had the honor of reading one of her drafts.  Prepare to be wowed.

Brave Enough by Kati Gardner – Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She’s never really had a choice on if she wanted to dance or not, her mother the artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. It’s all changing. Cason has been hiding an injury and it’s much worse than anyone imagines. Davis Channing understands all too well what it is like to give up all control in your life. He’s survived cancer, but it was his addictions that nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital.
But it all changes. Davis’ ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life bringing with it a type of carnage he hadn’t expected. Cason and Davis are not friends. But now they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds? (Goodreads)

New Christmas Books from 2017

I’ve loved Christmas books my entire life.  I treasure my copy of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree from childhood.  I’m always eager to find new gems each year.  Below are my favorites this year.

Pick a Pine Tree

Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis – A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime — beginning, of course, with picking out a tree!

Little Reindeer

The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen – An enchanting Christmas story about a magical yet unlikely friendship between a little girl and a lost reindeer sure to be a Christmas classic lovingly told and illustrated with red foil highlights and interactive die cuts.

 

The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli – Elephant is delighted to get a gift, but as the twelve days of Christmas continue, presents pile higher and higher! A partridge in a pear tree? Cute! But soon, her dad despairs. Two turtle doves? THREE French hens?! And just what are they supposed to do with ten lords a-leaping? Kids will love each silly spread in this raucous take on the classic carol that is perfect for reading aloud around the fireplace.

Merry Christmas Peanut

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border – A sweet (or is it salty?) Christmas story with heart, humor, and plenty of punny holiday cheer.

All summaries from publishers’ websites.

 

 

Ame Dyckman and Zachariah Ohora Do It Again

Lemmings

I’ve yet to read a book written and illustrated by this duo which hasn’t resulted in me laughing out loud.  Ame Dyckman’s writing and Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are always a perfect match.

You must read, Read the Book, Lemmings – “The team behind the New York Times bestselling Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear! is back with with new Arctic characters in this hilarious learning-to-read adventure!

Aboard the S.S. Cliff, First Mate Foxy reads an interesting fact: “Lemmings don’tjump off cliffs.” But Foxy can’t get the lemmings on the Cliff to read his book, too. They’re too busy jumping off.

After a chilly third rescue, exasperated Foxy and grumbly polar bear Captain PB realize their naughty nautical crew isn’t being stubborn: The lemmings (Jumper, Me Too, and Ditto) can’t read. And until Foxy patiently teaches his lemmings to read the book, he can’t return to reading it, either!” (publisher’s summary)

And if you haven’t read Wolfie the Bunny or Horrible Bear, check them out today.

 

 

2018 Goal

Life Hacks

I’ve been very slack this year sharing great books.  I’ve learned the older your child gets the less mental capacity you have to write.  In 2018, I plan to share brief posts about new books arriving at the library.  At least three a week.  If I have time to elaborate on the titles, I will.  If not, I’ll include the publisher’s summary.

We received a big shipment today.  I immediately checked out one title.  It’s certain to be a hit with my DIY girl.  I’ll probably stock up on the supplies for the Groovy Lava Lamp before showing her the book.  Otherwise, she’ll drive me crazy begging to drive to our nearest grocery store for supplies.  I need to stock up on ear wires for Duct Tape Earrings too.  I can see it now.  A new trend will start at her school  because she loves to make gifts for people.  Luckily, I read the Let’s Get Pranked Hacks chapter.  She “gets me good” all the time.  No new ideas needed.   Maybe I’ll try one on her before I give her the book.

Life Hacks for Kids with Sunny Keller – Packed with 35 popular “hacks” from the top rated YouTube show Life Hacks for Kids, this book is sure to be a hit with fans of the show as well as kids who love to make something out of nothing. Featuring original photographs and behind the scenes insight from show’s star, Sunny Keller. (publisher’s summary)

Claymates – My Favorite Picture Book of 2018

When Claymates by Dev Petty and illustrated by Lauren Eldridge arrived at the library, all the Youth Services staff loved it.  Then, I used it at a program for Kindergarten – 2nd graders.  They loved it even more.  This summer, I’ll share it with 3rd-5th graders.  I should warn the library staff before the program.  I know the kids will scream with laughter while I read the book.  When I share the book trailer video, there will probably be a noise complaint from the apartments across the street.

 

The activity for this book was fun. We viewed this Book Chat first.

 

Then, each child received a paper plate with a generous pinch of two colors of play dough and googly eyes.  They were encouraged to create characters.  Around ten minutes later, toothpicks were added to the mix.  Ten minutes after the toothpick distribution, colorful plastic straws and scissors to cut the straws were placed on the tables for use.  They spent half an hour molding a variety of  creatures.  The parents loved this program as much as the children.  Many asked if there were extra materials so they could participate.  Parents and children alike created their very own Claymates.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday from Aunt Kerri and ML

Today is a special day.  It’s the day ML was due to arrie in 2006.  She didn’t.  But a few years later my nephew did.  Every year, I send him books for his birthday.  This is the first year I wasn’t sure which direction to go.  He’s at the age where children could be reading Easy Readers or as some parents like to brag, “books on a high school reading level.”

I did what every responsible Aunt does.  I asked what he’s enjoying reading.  My sister-in-law quickly responded Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid but thought I’d be hard pressed to find one he hadn’t read.  This was music to my ears.  My nephew has entered the independent chapter book reading stage of life.  One where series are king.  In later years he will reminisce about these characters he met and fell in love with as he was truly learning to be a reader.  Not just someone who sounded out words.

I had a few ideas but consulted with ML too.   A Diary of a Wimpy Kid series read-alike was easy.  Timmy Failure started the amazon shopping cart.  Mr Pants was added as  T’s next graphic novel series to explore.  I knew I wanted to send an I Survived book; but was at a loss of which one to order.  ML helped with this.  She suggested The Shark Attacks of 1916.  Then, she reminded me how much she loved Geronimo Stilton at this age.  With the edition of Geronimo Stilton:  The Karate Mouse, our order was complete.

After the order shipped a new graphic novel arrived at the library.  I read it Thursday night and there’s no doubt it would have been a perfect edition to the list.  With Christmas around the corner, I’ve started a new cart.  Yes, I am THAT aunt.  The one who gives books.  Come December 25th my nephew will also own Toby Goes Bananas.  And a few other yet to be determined titles.

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

It wasn’t until I read It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozah Dumas that I delved into the history of the Iran Hostage Crisis, as an adult, instead of relying on my childhood memories.  I’ve never insisted ML read a book.  That may change.  This book captures the awkwardness of middle school and the prejudices of others during a time in history that her old mother lived through.  The summer before sixth grade is a perfect time to introduce this book to she and her friends.

This synopsis created by the publisher does a much better job than I could describing the book.  “Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.”

A day before I turned seven the Iran Hostage Crisis began.  My only memories are the yellow ribbons, a man from the town over was a hostage, every night the news would update the number of days the hostages where in captivity and they weren’t released until Ronald Reagan was sworn in.  They were hostages for 444 days.  All of which I enjoyed the freedoms of living in a country where a girl could go to school, wear whatever clothes her mom would let her, climb trees, swim and compete with the boys.  I had no knowledge that in a country across the ocean girls my age were losing rights.

Where I lived at the time, diversity of skin color was almost nonexistent  Surrounded by White  Anglo Saxon Protestants, the most diverse children in my grade where two Christian African Americans.  I had never heard of Islam. Judaism or Catholicism. At that point in my life, you were either Methodist, Baptist or Presbyterian.  My family was probably considered liberal.  We were members of the Methodist church, I attended  preschool at the Presbyterian church and graduated from kindergarten at the Baptist church.  I don’t think kindergarten started at my elementary school until 1979.  My first year of elementary school coincided with the Iran Hostage Crisis.

While I was making cookie monsters and learning to read, I had no understanding of the challenges children around the world and even the United States suffered.  In theory I knew there were starving children in Africa but (spoiler alert) a middle school girl from a different country finding a dead hamster left on her doorstep in the United States out of prejudice would have been incomprehensible.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday SJ – 11 Books and One to Grow On

ML’s best friend moved a little over a year ago.  It was hard for ML.  There have been times when she was in tears over various things this past year.  The only thing she wanted was to talk to SJ.  Some were friendship issues.  Some were when she was mad at me.  One was when her hand was pouring blood from squeezing a wine glass.  That’s a blog post in itself.

ML and SJ became friends without parent involvement.  Which is unusual for 5-year-olds.  They met at Y Camp the summer before kindergarten.  SJ’s mom says it best; “People search their whole lives for the kind of friendship ML and SJ have.”

We’ve worked hard to make certain the girls see each other every few months.  Tomorrow, we’ll drive four hours to spend Labor Day Weekend celebrating SJ’s birthday.  I’m fully prepared to hear “Are we there yet?  How much longer?” every five minutes.  I’m excited as ML because SJ and her family are like family to us.

Last fall, we picked up SJ on our way to a wedding in Georgia.  I wish I had a video of their hug when they first saw each other after almost two months apart.  In January  SJ, her mom and brother came for the Woman’s March.  They came up for a portion of spring break too.  (Note to self.  Check to see if they have the same spring break this year).  Then, SJ came for a week this summer.  ML and SJ met at a YMCA Day Camp the summer before elementary school; so they spent their days at the camp.  At night, I enjoyed watching these two make slime, eat at Moes, and the one that made me smile the most… lying on the bed reading books before lights out.

At the beginning of last year, ML put in words how hard it was at school without SJ.  “SJ’s the one who helps bring people together.  When people are mad or disagreeing, she helps find a solution.”  To celebrate this amazing girl, who should be president… and very well may be one day.  I’ve put together a list of 11 books for her to read this year.  It’s based on books I know she loved, her interests and to grow her already compassionate self to see a variety of viewpoints.  This might seem like a lot of books to “assign”  I feel confident several of these books she will read in one night.  I’ve purposely included a variety of genres and writing styles.  I’ve read all but one.  I’ll write a post soon about the one I’ve yet to read; but I already know it’s a winner.  I’m not going to quiz SJ on these books next year; but I do hope she gives each book at least 30 pages.  In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about her Birthday Book List for when she starts middle school next year.

 

bubble

Bubble by Stewart Foster

Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

 

George

George by Alex Gino

Awful Falafal

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafal by

Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

march

March, Book 1 by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

moo

Moo by Sharon Creech

nine ten

Nine, Ten:  A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Roller Girl

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

 

Summerlost_BOM.indd

Summerlost by Ally Condie

Under The Egg

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitgerald

And one to grow on; because not only did SJ meet Cassie Beasely when she came to our local bookstore to promote Circus Mirandus, she and her mom read it aloud and loved it.

Tumble Blue

Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasely

 

 

KidLit Cares – ML Does Too

On Sunday, I posted a picture of an abandoned lemonade stand on Facebook with the comment.  “I know some local entrepreneurs who will soon realize one of the first rules of making money. Don’t leave your cash box unattended.”  Last night, I picked the two entrepreneurs up  from gymnastics.  I was going to wait and see how long it took for them to realize their lemonade cash was missing.  Then, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey happened.  Knowing these girls’ sweet spirits, I chose a different route.  To set the scene there were two sweaty girls in leotards sitting in the back seat surrounded by backpacks, binders and lunch boxes.  Our conversation went like this.

Me:  Where’s the money you made from the lemonade stand?

ML:  In the box.

Me:  No, it’s not.

ML:  Did you spend it?

Me:  No.  I stole it.  You shouldn’t leave your cash box unattended.

ML:  MOM!!!

Me:  I had an idea.  Would you like to donate it to the Red Cross to help the victims from Hurricane Harvey?

ML and Friend:  YES!!!

Their $13 won’t buy anything from the auction KidLit Cares is holding.  But it might if I add to it.  I’m thinking about approaching parents from fifth grade to see if any of them want to join in a bid for a Skype visit with an author.   I have my eye on a few and feel certain their ELA teacher wouldn’t object.  Especially one who is having her students read so many wonderful books this year.

People who write children’s books don’t do it for the money.  Writing is hard work and takes lots of time.  I already knew authors of books for children were amazing.  But their willingness to share their time and promote the love of reading while benefiting Hurricane Harvey victims speaks volumes.

Kate Messner says it best on the KidLit Cares Auction site.

“People who write children’s books and work in this industry have a wide range of interests and talents. As authors, illustrators, agents, and editors, we do different jobs, and we love and create different kinds of books. But one thing we all tend to agree on is using your powers for good in the world.

We are heartbroken that Hurricane Harvey and related flooding is having such a devastating effect on those in the storm’s path. Today and in the weeks to come, the Red Cross will be serving thousands of families displaced by Hurricane Harvey and related flooding. Those families include so many kids who read our books. We’d like to do what we can to help, and that’s what KidLit Cares is all about.”

199 authors, illustrators, editors and agents have donated their time or books.  Take a look and consider bidding if you can.  If you can’t, consider giving what you can to the Red Cross.  Small amounts from many people add up quickly.

Follow the link below for more information.

http://www.katemessner.com/kidlit-cares-our-hurricane-harvey-relief-effort/

 

Fifth Grade – 30 Pages a Night

 

Ml started 5th grade yesterday.  Word on the street was one of ML’s teacher’s has high expectations; and middle school will seem easy after having her.  All good words for a mom to hear.  BUT I didn’t know how much I was going to love this teacher until yesterday.  Here’s a portion of the email she sent yesterday.

“They also received their first assigned novel to read. Typically students are accustomed to hearing “30 minutes” of reading per evening, M-F. However, in my 18 years of teaching I have learned that 30 minutes for one child may be 3 pages, while for another it may be 40 pages, depending upon concentration, interest, and other factors.  I have told the children that I would like them to read 20-30 pages per evening, rather than counting minutes. It is more tangible. If your child finds the book too difficult to read 20-30 pages in a reasonable amount of time, then I can get them another book more suited to their level. We will be using these assigned novels for writing assignments. Thank you for your patience and support!”

ML’s first assigned book is Gregor the Overlander.  As pictured above, the other books they will read this quarter are Hatchet, Wait Till Helen Comes, and Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  Those are the ones she remembers.  I’m eager to see if there are others.  And wondering the total amount of books ML will read this year.  Based on a secret algorithm I created using my knowledge of number of days of school and average number of pages in a chapter book for fifth graders, my guess is 15 books.

I’m giving myself homework too.  Thirty pages a day of contenders for the 2018  Newbery Award.  The four books I’m starting with are below.  I feel certain I won’t read all the books completely; but I’ll at least give them thirty pages.  And if I end up reading the entire book, you can bet it will make my list right before the awards are given on what I think should win.

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Solo by Kwame Alexander

I hope I remember the lesson I learned from this novel written in verse, Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, in my personal and professional life.

“I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.”

Libraries are the great equalizer; but sometimes when planning programs and services, we forget to ask our community what do you need?  Below is my favorite poem in this book of striking poems that create a beautiful narrative of a young man coming into his own.

People Are People

Two hundred dollars is more than a kind gesture.  I will ask
Elvis to accept half.
That’s not necessary.  I just want to get on with this.  I’m tired of waiting.

. . . .

. . . .

Are you nervous?
Very. But I’m excited too.  This is finally happening.

I’m happy for you.  I am glad you came here.
Me too.

Your father does not need to build as a dormitory, please
tell him that.
He seems serious, and I mean, you do need it.

How do I say this without sounding ungrateful?
Huh?

The people who come here to help never ask us what
need.  They tell us.

. . . .

One church started the school, another promised to fix it.
One group built two wells, but didn’t leave any tools or
show us how to repair it.
That’s why you to have to walk so far for water?

I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.
What do you want?

A stove would be nice.  Perhaps a washing machine, she
says, laughing.
Really?

The women spend half of the day washing clothes.  There
is no time for their own self development.  There is not time
to help their children with homework.  We are so busy
cleaning.
I see.