Month: December 2014

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

The Midnight Library

I wanted to publish this 200th blog post of 2014 at 11:59 tonight.  However, there’s no guarantee I’ll still be a awake.  And I’ve worked so hard to publish two hundred posts in one year.  It’s appropriate I end the year with a book about midnight and a library.

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara – “Pay a visit to the Midnight Library where you can snuggle up for a nighttime story. There is a little library that only opens at night. In the library there is a little librarian—and her three assistant owls—who helps everyone find the perfect book. The library is always peaceful and quiet . . . until one night when some of the animals stir up a little trouble (and a little fun!)”

Why should you read this book?
It’s about a library with all it’s fun and drama.  Music playing squirrels, crying wolves, slow moving tortoises.  In my library world, the musicians are not squirrels.  They are invited to perform.  The crying wolves are toddlers.  The slow moving tortoises are the people who insist the library is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.  I adore Kazuno Kohara’s illustrations.  This time she uses a trichromatic color scheme.  (Yes, I made up the word.)  Most of the illustrations are black and gold.  However, the books and a few other objects are a lovely blue.  The blue I wanted to paint my old house.  It made me smile when I saw the new owner painted it exactly how I wanted.

Before After

Before After

Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Aregui is a distinctive picture book.  Most picture books are 32 pages and include text.  This book is 176 pages  of illustrations featuring no text.

“Everyone knows that a tiny acorn grows into a mighty oak and a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. But in this clever, visually enchanting volume, it’s also true that a cow can result in both a bottle of milk and a painting of a cow, and an ape in a jungle may become an urban King Kong. Just as day turns into night and back again, a many-tiered cake is both created and eaten down to a single piece.”

Why should you read this book?
It’s a springboard for conversations.  Cautionary – the slingshot illustration followed by a broken window.  Historical – the candle, followed by the gas lamp, followed by the electric lamp.  Environmental – Instead of always having pristine art materials… opening a fresh box of colored pencils and using them until they are nubs.

The Numbers Never Lie

WordPress sent me an “Annual Report” about my blogging in 2014.  I’m amazed.  Barring technical difficulties, my goal of 200 posts will be reached tomorrow before midnight.  So far there have been 11,414 page views from readers in 97 different  countries.  How does this compare to 2013?  Last year I was humbled by 7977 views in 42 different countries.

The most popular post this year was In Memory of a Courageous Athlete.  I’ve copied the text below.  On New Year’s Eve, remember all those who have lost someone this year.  I think of Keaton’s family everyday. My favorite day of 2014?  ML and I meeting up with Keaton’s entire family… parents, grandparents, brothers, sister-in-law, aunts, uncles and cousins for lunch.  They were visiting Keaton’s brother who plays football for UNC and wasn’t able to visit his family in Georgia for the holidays.  I didn’t know Keaton; but I felt the spirit of he and my mother looking down on our visit with smiles.

Keaton

My heart is breaking at the death of a young man I never met.  Over forty-five years ago, my parents were newlyweds living in a small town in south Georgia.  They met lifelong friends who had two small children.  When my parents moved three hours away, the friendship continued.  Doris and my mom wrote letters to each other back when that still happened.  Their family visited our family.  We visited them.  Braves games and Six Flags and just hanging out are some of the memories I have. Since my mother passed away, Doris has continued this lifelong friendship.  Reaching out and supporting me through both happy and difficult times.

The grandson of this wonderful family passed away yesterday.  When he was a junior in high school, Keaton was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Even through his treatment, which included surgeries and chemotherapy, he played football.  For the past two years, I’ve been following his story on Facebook via his mom and grandmother.  Watching with amazement at this courageous young man who didn’t let brain cancer keep him from enjoying high school to the fullest.  Football games, homework, high school dances.  He did it all.

Since learning of his death, I’ve been searching for the perfect picture book to honor him.  I thought maybe a story about football.  But I couldn’t find one I liked.  Through a web search using the words picture books and courage, I found one.

WilmaUnlimited

Wilma, Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz – A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

Just like Wilma Rudolph, Keaton plowed through showing others what one can do with determination and pure grit.  A few weeks ago he was chosen as Georgia’s Male Positive Athlete of The Year.  No one deserves this honor more.

Albie’s First Word

Albie's First Word

Albie’s First Word:  A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein’s Childhood by Jacqueline Tourville and illustrated by Wynne Evans – “Three-year-old Albie has never said a single word. When his worried mother and father consult a doctor, he advises them to expose little Albie to new things: a trip to the orchestra, an astronomy lecture, a toy boat race in the park. But though Albie dances with excitement at each new experience, he remains silent. Finally, the thoughtful, quiet child witnesses something so incredible, he utters his very first word: “Why?”

Why should you read this book?
ML wanted to read it two nights in a row.  This detail should be enough to convince you to read the book.

The Sky is Falling!!!

Chicken Little

One of my favorite stories growing up was Chicken Little.  Recently, a new version arrived at the library entitled Brave Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Robert Byrd.  Before reading the book I asked ML, “Do you know who Chicken Little is?  She immediately yelled at the top of her lungs, “The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!”

Why should you read this book?
It’s a great read-aloud with characters I’m not familiar with from other editions… Piggy Wiggy, Rabbit Babbit, Natty Ratty, Froggy Woggy and Roly and Poly Moley.  Then, there’s Foxy Loxy’s children… Foxy Boxy, Foxy Doxy, Foxy Hoxy, Foxy Moxy, Foxy Noxy, Foxy Poxy, and Foxy Soxy.  The opportunity to read those names is in itself a reason to check out this book.

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne

Book Ate Dog

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne – “When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right. Cleverly using the physicality of the book, This book just ate my dog! is inventive, ingenious, and just pure kid-friendly fun!”

Why should you read this book?
Everyone I’ve shared it with starts out grinning.  Then, chuckles.  Then, snickers.  Then, giggles.  Then, cracks up.  At the end, they roar with laughter.

Farmer Brown

I Love My Hat

Yesterday, I texted my brother, “Happy Birthday!”  He responded “thank you;” and didn’t correct my mistake.  Today, is his real birthday.  I cannot let the day go by without a post to celebrate him.

According to family lore,  during preschool my brother insisted on being called “Farmer Brown.”  When I Love My Hat by Douglas Florian and illustrated by Paige Keiser arrived, I loved it.  However, I decided to wait to share this book.  In honor of the boy who irritated me as a child; and I wish I saw more than twice a year as an adult… a book with a character named Farmer Brown.

According to Amazon, “One autumn morning, Farmer Brown gets on his tractor and heads to town. Along the way, he picks up a cat in a hat, a goat in a coat, an ox in socks, and other animals who love their clothes—and each animal sings a little song about what it’s wearing. When they reach the town, it’s Farmer Brown’s turn to sing about his clothes—after he gets some new ones. This silly farmyard romp will have kids singing about their own favorite clothes.”

We’re seeing my brother and his family in a couple of weeks.  This book is making the trip.  I’m eager to tell my niece and nephew about their dad, Farmer Brown.  I should probably hold off sharing about the time we were fighting and my bedroom door fell of the hinges as a result.