Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Books for Halloween Part 2

There are so many really good books out here that is it hard to pick just one. As a children's librarian, it is always best to keep an arsenal of books on hand to keep children interested, and entertained for the annual Halloween story time. For parents, educators or avid readers, a full list of Halloween tales is available by contacting me at In the meantime I will be remiss not to mention two more outstanding picture books for the younger crowd and two for the older elementary crowd who want a little more "scary in their holiday.
Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer is a great book about a little monster of a boy who has to find his place in his very scary Frankenstein family. His parents don't think he looks like them, his hair is the wrong color. His skin is not the right shade of green either. Actually it is quite soft and peachy. And walking like them, well that seems to be a bit of a problem too. So little Frankie decides he will find his own way of being scary. Children will love to find out how he accomplishes this task.
The Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything by Linda Williams is a delightful story of a woman on her way home being followed by shoes, pants, shirts, top hat, gloves and a scary pumpkin face. By the end of the story, the readers find out that the Old Lady is not only fearless, but also a very clever lady. Pick up the book to find out how she uses her wits.
Now, on to the books for the Older Children. The first selection and perhaps the best book about Halloween is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. This book weaves the many traditions and historical facts about the holiday into one fantastic trip for eight little boys who want to save their best pal, Pip. The children travel through Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Scotland, England, Latin America and home again in a journey that is literally life changing. There is a small part of the book where the children make a deal "with the devil" to save their friend, Pip. Was the deal worth it? Or was it too late for Pip? Only way to find out is to pick up the book. It is a fun ride!
The Boy of A Thousand Faces by Brian Selznick reminds adult readers what it is like to sit up late at night and watch those awful black and white monster movies that scared us silly when we were younger. For the reader in which this book was intended, it is a story about a Alonzo, a boy who born on Halloween, loves monsters and knows that they exist. Who's gonna believe him? He has the proof when The Beast comes to town and everyone is wondering where it is from and how to capture him. Alonzo tries to solve this intriguing mystery and find a birthday/Halloween surprise that is shared with the entire neighborhood, including nostalgic grownups.

As stated earlier, if anyone would like a full list of Halloween titles please email me at

Happy Haunting for great books ;-) !

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spooky Reads For Halloween

As you see by the title, this is a list of books that are cute, spooky and fun for Halloween. I am not a real big fan of Halloween, but it's the children that have always made my night. To see them getting all excited about dressing up and going door to door is a blast. My favorite Halloween story has to do with "Madeline", but that is a story for another day. Now is the time to start planning those great Halloween story times for groups of children or just the one special one that loves to curl up with you and a good book. This is by far not the most inclusive list, but for this librarian it just wouldn't be Halloween without these characters.
First on my list, The Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian. This is definitely an oldie but a goodie. it was published in 1965 but it is so cute that it stands the test of time. A cute little story about a witch who just can't seem to get her laugh right, her broom to fly or get her potions to work. I'm Not giving away the ending, but let's just say, it is a very nice ending that leaves the reader with a smile on their face.
If the kids you are reading to love counting books, and who doesn't, try 10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman. Perfectly written and illustrated with little ones in mind. The colors are bright, the are Halloweenish without being to ghoulish and the countdown is perfect for audience participation. It's quick, funny and fun!
Who can go on enjoy Halloween without the traditional rhyme of the Five Little Pumpkins? Thank goodness Iris Van Rynback knew to put this rhyme into a cute little book with perfect illustrations to match. It's not the traditional bright colors one would see in other books of the season. Instead, knowing that the audience would be for toddlers, the pictures are done in soft pastel colors with the perfect shade of orange for the five little pumpkins. It is warm, whimsical and winning. A can't miss if toddlers are around.
Eve Bunting is a favorite children's author of mine so it was a surprise find The Bones of Fred McFee. Expecting something light and cherry, this book swept that notion away with the very first page. Children will wonder if Fred McFee was real or just a plastic skeleton. The rhyming story of how the skeleton jangled and danced in the sycamore tree will capture the attention of young listeners as they find out the fate of ol' Fred McFee.
My favorite new Halloween book is Goodnight Goon! A sweet parody of the Margaret Wise Brown's classic tale Goodnight Moon. Michael Rex does a wonderful job in capturing the spirit of the original tale and turning it into a Halloween Classic. Now, I said it was a sweet parody, and it is. But don't tell Mr. Rex I said that. The subtitle of the book is : A petrifying parody. which is kind of misleading. How can a cute little wolf-man be so petrifying? He just needs his rest just like any other little boy!
To say the least, this list is not complete. There are so many more wonderful stories to share but for the moment I will leave you with these titles to search your local library's shelves. Next time around, has anyone heard of The Halloween Tree? The next installment will be titles that are for the older reader (Middle school and up) Be ready for some serious titles that a Trick-or-Reader can really sink their teeth into on a really scary October night!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banned Books Week... Why all the Celebrating?

Banned Books Week beings September 26- October 3, 2009 It is an effort to bring about awareness of censorship in our society. It is also useless, intellectually devoid of reason and waste of time for libraries to be pursuing as an agenda. There are so many problems with this celebration that it is really hard to know where to begin. The American Library Association has stated in the LIbrary Bill of Rights, Article 3 that, "Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment." Thank goodness there were not oaths to take as a librarian at the point of receiving the degree. It would have been difficult for me to accept based on this premiss. It would take a snob with glasses sliding down their nose to scold anyone on the importance of intellectual freedom and censorship. The arguments for promoting Banned Books falls flat on its face.
Censorship in America truly does not exist. There are indeed numerous school libraries who have complained of "censorship" because parents, and school boards opposed certain books on the libraries shelf. Common sense should prevail here, but it often does not. The "censorship" of Harry Potter for school and pubic libraries did not prevent the book from being read by thousands of children and adults. Rather it may have spurred the sales because of the controversy. If one librarian did lose the fight to keep poor old Harry in her library, how would this have impacted her patrons? With all the bookstores pilling the books in their storefront windows or having midnight parties on the day the latest installment was to be released, the impact would have been minimal. Also, using another library would not be out of the question, even if it is borrowing from a personal library of a neighbor. What is the penalty for a child to have the "banned book" in their possession? If the child is hung by their toenails and whipped in front of the entire school for such disobedience, that would be a crime. Something to truly fight against. However, this does not happen. At worst, the child could get suspended at the very least, told not to bring the book back to school. How barbaric! School boards, library boards and any other authority can no stop the publication, distribution or reading of any book in America. When the United States Government comes to the point where they will stop publication and distribution materials that is "inappropriate" in their eyes, then we have a problem.
Banned books presumes that all books are worthy to be read and have value. That somehow the act of getting published merits librarians to defend the book at all cost. Anyone who is an avid reader will argue that fact! Not all books should be read and honestly, there are others that should not have been written at all because of poor plots or writing. Every book that is on the list of Banned Books have caused controversy. A literary work is placed on the list when their is a complaint filed against it because of its language, subject matter or philosophy. For some authors it seems to be a badge of honor to have their work placed here. Controversy always sells and what better way to get free publicity than to have an association such as the American Libraries Association to promote your book? Which comes as no surprise that the authors, publishers and book distributers all support the agenda for Banned Book Week. It benefits them in monetary ways.
The American Library Association has also stated that children have the right to read the books that they choose. There has to be some common sense here also and it is always lost with the intellectual idealism that warps many minds. Children are children, that is to say they do not bare the same responsibilities as adults. Nor should they. When making a statement that children have the right to read whatever they'd like, it does not count into the debate that children do not have "rights" under the law. A child does have the right to be free from physical harm, a safe home and school. However, a child does not have a right to vote, to make their own medical decision, or even to choose not to get an education. All of these rights are given to the legal guardian. It is time as professional librarians to face the fact that parents do have the right to tell their child what they think is best for them to read. If a parent does not want Harry Potter or Twilight to be in their home because they feel it isn't right for their child to read, they should be able to do so without being casted as some weirdo who is stuck in the middle ages. Most children will read books that follow the same values as they are being taught at home and school. Rarely do they go off to read something that is radically different. However, if they do, isn't it the parent's right to stop their children from reading the materials? After all, the job of PARENTING is not the librarians. Let's take an extreme scenario because for argument sake we can. What happens when a child decides he/she would like a book written by the KKK or other radical groups, what should be the parent's reaction? Are they doing a report on the topic? Or are they falling for a philosophy that was never taught at home, such as racial superiority? This is the job for the parent to decide whether they want this information in the home, not the child.
Lastly, the dirty little secret about Intellectual freedom and censorship is that librarians practice it every day! It's called collection development. On a day to day basis, librarians decide what books, will go on the shelves and what books don't pass the grade. It is based on book reviews, content of the material and the need for information in a subject area. Like it or not, it is also based on what patrons are demanding. Sometimes, librarians might even let their own bias get in the way. (Don't get me started on novels based on Shakespeare's works! But that is topic for another day.)
It would be better for librarians and their associations to concern themselves with worthwhile causes that actually promote libraries. Battling an issue such as censorship in America is like trying to fight the monster in the closet. He's not there, he doesn't exist and so it's time to move on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Case for Librarians

This is either going to get me into hot water or create the opportunity of further discussions within the library world. It is my hope that it is the later. For too long now, the profession of librarians has suffered an inferiority complex. Librarians struggle with the image of what it is to be a professional in today's libraries. That struggle has impacted the image of the library as a whole. Some library associations have gone so far as to a publish a calendar photographing librarians' on the wild side with tattoos. This is not the image we need to be concerned about. The image as a professional is more important.
As professionals, librarians will select materials, answer reference questions, plan programs and balance budgets. It is amazing to see all the programs that libraries host on a day to day basis. Literally, the library has tried to become a place for everyone. From genealogy to gaming, and computers to crafts, with everything in between. In any given day in a library will have visitors coming in for all types of services. Is it any wonder that no one knows exactly what librarians do? Is it any wonder that patrons have come to expect additional non-library services? In a nutshell, Librarians entertain and educate patrons using a variety of tools that will aid the patrons in gathering information. Unfortunately, this does not get translated well to patrons or in financial crunches to government representatives.
The State of Michigan is experiencing a economic crisis that has been going on for almost eight years. To say that budget is tight is an understatement. Currently, Governor Jennifer Granholm has issued an Executive Order to eliminate the Histories, Arts and Libraries from the state budgets. Needless to say, this has caused a firestorm in the library community. However, in order to look at the problem realistically, it is easy to see that every sector of the government is going to promote itself and asked not to be cut. Someone has to make the tough decisions and somethings have to be cut. Libraries and their professional associations have dropped the ball when it comes to giving good solid reasons to invest in libraries. These reasons should have been promoted before the money started to run dry. Let me explain.
First of all, by trying to be everything to everyone, we fail to define ourselves. In the mistaken quest to be like bookstores, video stores, arcades, and computer labs, Libraries have lost their souls. It is not enough for libraries to excel in research and reading, instead excuses are made for why tax dollars should be spent on library programs that will get people into the building. It's almost as if we are conceding that libraries are not worth going to unless we have a gimmick. Any library worth it's salt can bring patrons in with quality materials and good customer service. The definition of a librarian is not they have tattoos, or dress cool or even have green hair. The definition of a librarian is someone who aids in the quest for information and learning. If we entertain during the quest, well that's just icing on the cake.
Secondly, the associations have been preoccupied with other agendas in the library world that are not important. Censorship issues is an example. While it can be agreed that it is important for children and adults get to read the materials they want, it is not a crucial issue in America. In case I have missed it, if one school board bans a book does that mean the title in question is not available for purchase through a bookstore? Or at another library? The books will still be available to the reader at other sources without library associations claiming injustice. If the freedom to read is important, then take up the cause of the blind and physically handicapped who will have their freedom to read restricted when the materials they need to help them read will no longer be available to them.
Third, the trend over the last ten years by library administrators in staffing their libraries with part-time employees is frightening and an admission that the profession is not a necessity in the community. For a profession that is barely able to define itself, this is committing suicide. How are libraries going to attract the next generation of librarians working for a Master's Degree if there is only part-time work available? Becoming a librarian is a profession not a hobby. With this dangerous trend, we are risking losing the bright stars of the future, as well as burning out the stars currently working the field. One has to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of a profession. The Library Journal must believe this is true when they are promoting other job routes for librarians.
Public libraries may become a luxury of the past. If we want to see libraries thrive and grow, then we must take a fresh look at funding, staffing and promoting our cause. Libraries should no longer claim that they are "free". In monetary terms, free is similar to saying no value, no investment. Patrons should know how much it takes to run a library and how it benefits the community. Is now the time that the library would should be considering privately funded or managed libraries? Are there other alternatives in staffing that should get a new look? It seems that a new approach to defining and funding our mission is an important step to take at this time. We need to take a step to secure our future. Taking no actions may result in the profession and libraries suffering a slow a painful death.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Soloist.... One Joy From This Book.

It must be that I am living under a rock.  After reading the book The Soloist, I have had several people tell me that have read the book and seen the movie.  I have not noticed either the book or the movie until now.  With some things, it can be said that it is better late than never.  However,  with this book, it barely makes that statement true.  So having said that,  I will keep the blog brief  and just get right to the heart of the matter.
It was a surprise to this reader that the book turned out to be more about the reporter, Steve Lopez than it was about Nathaniel,  the soloist.  In summary, it was the musings of a 50 year old man who is worried about deadlines, mortgages and retirement.  As a side note, he stumbles upon a homeless man who is a musical genius, playing Beethoven on Skid Row.  More than once, the musings turn to complaints about how the reporter's time is consumed by his project, Nathaniel. What should have been the more compelling story, which is Nathaniel, is buried deep in the pages of the book.  If the reader is patient enough and curious enough about Nathaniel, they will read through the musings and find his story.  Mr. Lopez demonstrates how today's reporters are vastly different from the days of old.   In today's world, the reporter puts themselves in the story, thus taking the focus off of the subject and onto them.  This might have something to do with why newspapers circulation has dropped across the country.  But  I digress.
Nathaniel's story has brought this reader some joy.  It has opened up the curiosities about classical music.  Without even hearing Nathaniel play his bass or violin, the story has planted a seed to learn more about the works of Beethoven, Back and the endless list of other composers. When Nathaniel speaks about certain concertos or symphonies  in the book, it has caused me to go search for the music to hear it for myself.   It is a delightful piece of nugget from the story to learn about classical music.  Too bad the same can't be said about homelessness or mental illness. 
As for what to do about the homeless, well, Mr. Lopez was not really interested in that angle enough for the reader to really care or put thought into the matter. Which is sad because after reading the book, one would hope that it would bring inspiration to want to help.  It doesn't.  All that is lost with the author's  personal life. Perhaps with the book and movie deal,  he can relax about retirement and write another book.  This time, taking himself out of the picture, and actually engage the reader's mind  about this age old problem of homelessness and the mentally ill.   

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Great Summer Reads part 2 --- Be Creative @ Your Library

As promised I am back with some more titles  with Creativity as a theme.  For me the best part of reading these books was learning about the arts.  Little tidbits of information would flow from the pages, and I would find myself thinking, wow I didn't know that!  But along with some interesting tidbits, there were interesting tales that wove the arts into a story in ways that were quite different and unexpected.  The Entertainer and The Dybbuk by Sid Fleichman is a different tale on love,  justice, and revenge.   The Great Freddie is a decorated GI, who has stayed in Europe to try his act as a ventriloquist.  What adds spark to his show?  Avrom Amos the dybbuk (wandering soul/ghost) who convinces Freddie to let him speak for the  wooden dummy.  The act is a smash all over Paris.  One problem,  Avrom has an agenda of  his own. With Freddie's  help he tracks down a SS colonel who not only killed him but also tortured children, including his sister.   The story ends on a high note, but it will leave the readers with a haunting horror of how innocent Jewish children were the target of Nazi cruelty. 
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by  Lensey Namioka is an older book and still has a ring of truth for today's youngsters who are looking for their "place" in their family and the world.    Little Yingtao is part of a very talented, musical family.  His problem is that he does not have the same ear for music as the rest of his family.  To put it politely he just can't play the violin well.  The Yang family has just moved from China to Seattle.   Looking for new students, Yingtao's Father decides to invite his new neighbors and friends to a family recital.  Poor Yingtao wants to help, but  he is afraid his screeching violin will ruin the recital.  Fortunately for Young Yang,  his new friend Matthew will help save the day.   Mixed into this story are Chinese culture and traditions which helps the reader understand  blending America takes a dose humor and friendship.    The first time I read the review for this book, I knew I had to read the book for myself.  
I absolutely adore this book. Stanza by Jill Esabuam, is a quick read about a tough dog by day
and by night he is a poet dog. Why doesn't he come out in the open? His two brothers, Dirge
and Fresco might not understand. However, Stanza love for chicken pot pie inspires him to enter
a jingle contest for his favorite food. What will Dirge and Fresco think of him if he wins? Well,
its a dog tale worth reading to find out how this story ends.
The 39 Apartments of Ludwig Van Beethoven by Jonah Winter is a riot with its clever artwork and quick-paced storytelling with a little bits of facts thrown in just for fun.   The reader goes on a wonderful trip of following Beethoven from apartment to apartment and moving 5 legless pianos 39 times.  The moral of this story:  One might be a musical genius but moving 5 legless pianos is no fun for the moving company!   Good thing Beethoven made up for it by composing the world's best music!
Sometimes talent comes in way that no one can see to appreciate.  Sara Pennypacker reminds readers of this in Talented Clementine.  Clementine is back and this time she is looking for an act to perform in her school's talent show.  Singing, dancing, or playing and instrument are not talents she can perform.   Clementine goes to her overly talented friend Margaret and finds that her best friend can't even help her.  At the talent show, she shows off her unexpected talent to everyone and surprises everyone.   Including herself! 

Well that's all for now.  Catch me next time when I review The Soloist by Steve Perez.  

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great Summer Reads for BE Creative @ Your Library

The weather in Michigan has been pretty cool for summer, but the books that I have been reading are quite hot.  Okay, so that seems a little cheesy to say but the truth is these books are very good, worth the time to find them to take with you on vacation or just read at home.  The mix I have here reflect a nice mix of  children's , young adult and adult titles.   My reading habits range from I want to be a kid again to maybe I should learn something new.  This list has it all.  Drop me a note at anytime to let me know  what you thought of the title and suggest one of your own.  Without further ado, here is the quick summer list for Summer 2009. 

1. Born to Rock -- Korman.  I love this book.  It is funny, nostalgic and a little bit outlandish but hey, who says we can't have a little fun.  Korman is a veteran Young Adult author who knows how to bring a little history into his story.  This particular story introduces us to a Young Republican Leo Carraway who is on a fast track to Harvard, only to find out that his way there has a few minor bumps in the road.  He loses his scholarship because he is suspected of cheating on a test.  Well,  how will he get to Harvard.  Easy.  Convince his suspected biological Father, King Maggot to help pay the tuition and in return he will become a roadie for the King's 80's punk band making a revival tour.  Is King Maggot his father?  Well, Leo finds this out and a whole lot more! 

Troll Bridge: A Rock-n-Roll - Yolen  An interesting tale of classical music,  pop boy band, a fox and trolls.   This is a quick,  light-hearted journey into the land of Trollholm.  Moira, a harpist prodigy, and the Griffsons, brothers in a boy band, find themselves lured into this mystical land where they are caught in a tug of war.  The trolls seem eager to get them and Foxs seems to be the only one who can save them from being doomed in this faraway place.    Noting in Trollholm is as it seems and in order to find their way home they realize that they must rely on each other's unique musical talent.

3. Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa -- Scotti  You don't need to be a art historian to enjoy this book.  It is packed with lots of information but it reads like a novel.  Scotti does a wonderful job to paint the picture of  the summer of 1911 in Paris when Mona Lisa was taken from the Louvre to the moment that she was found in the winter of 1913.    The theft of the century leaves it mark on history and the Mona Lisa becomes more mysterious.  This Book should be on everyone's need to read list. 

4. I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! - Beaumont   If this book is not already on your bookshelf or on your child's bookshelf.  Don't panic!  Run to your nearest bookstore and get a copy.   It is a delightful rhyming story about a little girl who just can't control herself when it comes to making her body a living canvas.  You will never look at paint the same way again. 

5.  A Crocked Kind of Perfect - Urban  Zoe just wants to play the piano and someday make it to Carnegie Hall.  All she needs is a piano to practice. However, when  Zoe's agoraphobic father presents her with a D-60 organ, her musical ambitions takes an unexpected turn.  This charming tale will resonate with eleven year olds everywhere who find themselves chasing a wonderful dream in places that they never dreamed. 

There are lots more titles to come, but consider this an I.O.U for the next time when I list five more titles that are sure to get everyone reading!  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

39 Clues ... an interesting concept

Normally,  series titles bore me.  The only series I ever finished as a juvenile reader were the Little House books.  I loved them!  But when Laura Ingells Wilder decided that the stories were over,  I never went back to reading another series.  An occasional Nancy Drew, but never the a series.  For today's young reader, the trend in Children's Literature seems to be that authors have to come up with a series.  There are so many good series out to choose from, that it is quite a task to find the best ones. As a librarian reliving her youth through some of these titles,  I wish these books would have been around when I was a kid.   One of the best series was,  Percy Jackson and the Olympians which became an unexpected thrill through Greek Mythology.   Rick Riordian found gold and the stories are quite a gem.   So it came to no surprise to me that the next adventure he chooses to tackle is the 39 Clues.  
The best way to describe the 39 Clues series is think of the movie, National Treasure, but instead of Nicholas Cage running around the world searching for clues and hidden treasures, it is two young orphans who have conniving relatives,  au pair who is responsible, yet cool in a punk-like way, and a chance to become rich.  The adventures of Dan and Amy Cahill are to say the least outlandish.  Having said that, even though the reader may think to themselves "Yeah, right.",  they are hooked in trying to decipher the clues alongside Amy and Dan.   Each book has it's own set of  trading cards.  The cards can then be used to find additional clues online at   It's reading with a board game feel.  
This series has four books out to date and a fifth title in the series due out in August 11th and the final book will be out by September 2010. In order to see all 39 clues and try to win the game, readers read he book collect the cards and choose missions on the website. Fans can't wait to see what happens next, but I got to wonder are there any closet 39 clues addict out there who would want to form an alliance to solve the mystery of the Cahill fortune?   If you have read the 39 Clues,  young or old, and would like to share insights on Amy and Dan's treasure hunt,  leave a post to this blog.  I am not sure where this will lead, but I am hoping that as a librarian this could lead to the rewarding treasure of sharing books with young readers.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

Needed to Read This One!

As  a Youth Services Librarian, I find that summer months are the busiest times at the library.   Kids are off for the summer, and parents are looking to entertain their children as cheaply as possible.  Who can blame them?  Especially in this economy.   (Yes,  another "hurray" for  public libraries  and  the role they play in the community.)   Having said that, I have been busy catching up on  reading  books that I have been on my Need to Read List.  Since I am busier in the Summer, I try to steal as much time as I can to read.  Trust me, it is a challenge.  Next to my desk, I've got a notebook that I have dedicated to Need to Read.  Hardly do I ever say,want to read because for me want and need go hand in hand.  Besides, Need to Read sounds so poetic, doesn't it?  So beginning today, I am going to add a new part of my blog where I will name it "Need to Read".   
For a quick, yet  wonderful story of family, identity and love I needed to read So B. It by Sarah Weeks.  Very few authors can take the ingredients of an unusual situation, a strong female character, a journey of discovery  and turn it into a story that whips up the emotions and imagination.  Ms. Weeks does this with class and style.  Admittedly at first, the premise of a child growing up in a home with a mentally challenged mother and a neighbor who is agoraphobic (fear of going outside)  seemed a bit depressing.  Really, how interesting  could this thirteen year-old's life be? It seemed to be reminiscent of Higher Power of Lucky, which was the worst book that I have ever had the displeasure of reading.  Not another story about a girl who lives in depressing neighborhood, where there is no hope for things ever changing.   Thankfully,  Ms. Weeks tells the story of Heidi's journey in a way that lifts the spirit.  It is a classic underdog story that everyone loves.   Heidi not only wins our attention, she wins in life too. Without giving the ending away, it is safe to say that Heidi not only finds her identity, she is also able to discern what is and is not important to know.  The book is definitely one to pick up at the library or at your local bookstore.  If either places don't have it, ask to  have it interloaned or ordered.  It's that  good! 
If anyone has a suggestion of titles or books that may be deserving of being placed on the Need To Read List, please send suggestions to  

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Favorite Mommy Books!

Mother's Day is just around the corner.  In my neck of the woods I always get patrons, teachers, moms, dads, kids and just about everyone I know, asking me for suggestions for books to give on Mother's Day.  There are so many books to choose from that it is literally a chore to pick out favorites.  However,  I do have favorite picture books that deal with mommies and babies that will warm the hearts of everyone who ever had a mother.   These books are great gifts for mom because they remind her to take time to relax, be with the  kids  and enjoy a few precious moments with them.    After all they are only little for a while.   So in no particular order, here are some great books. 

Love You Forever  by Robert Munsch 
If this book does not make you cry, I don't know what will.  It's a gentle story about the cycle of life.  One day the child is the baby and the next thing you know he is grown and taking care of his mother.  The significance of this book will go over most children's head, but the adults get it and love to read it over and over. 

Guess How Much I love You  by Sam McBratney
So cute and so rich in soft colors.  Little Joey (as in a Kangaroo)  finds out just how much his mommy loves him.  For all kids this is as comforting as a big bear hug from mom! 

Counting Kiss: A Kiss and Read Book  by Karen Katz
Do you have a kid who won't sit still for story time?  Here is and idea:  Use this book as a wonderful excuse to plant kisses all over baby and teach them to count at the same time.  It works wonders on the kids behavior.   Warning: Some parents have reported that the kisses keep coming even after the book is closed!  Be Prepared! 

Are you my mother?  by P.D. Eastman
A classic!  A little birdie is just  hatched from his egg and goodness,  he can't find mom!  Who is his mom?  A dog, cow or a plane?  Actually it really is a bird just like him and the story ends well. 

My Monster Mamma Loves Me So!  by Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner
Every time I read this book, I get the giggles.  It is so cute!   Why should it be surprising to anyone that baby monsters are just like human babies?  Granted human babies don't go out for moonlit walks or eat creepy things.  When you read this wonderful little rhyming book,  there is a sense of familiarity to it that grabs the imagination and the laughs of children and adults alike. 

Llama Llama mad at Mama  by Anna Dewdeny
The cover says it all!  Little Llama does not want to go shopping with Mama.  Why? Cause its not fun!  Mom and little one will certainly relate this story and probably have a few giggles as they find out how the whole shopping experience ends.  

Time just won't permit me to add more titles to the list.   Don't you worry though,  I'll have a part two soon!  

Have fun reading!  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Books on Honest Abe

Just wanted to let everyone know about two books about our Sixteenth president that caught my eye.   

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells and My Brother Abe by Harry Mazer.  Both books are for children age 9-12.  What was particularly interesting about these two titles is that both authors decided to give the point of view to Abraham Lincoln's relatives.  In the Ms. Wells' book, the reader gets a glimpse at how Abe's children looked up to their famous father.  It is a touching tale that includes wonderful colored illustrations which bring out the warmth of the bond between father and sons.    

Mr. Mazer book is told for the viewpoint of  Sally Lincoln,  Abe's older sister.  Here we see Abe as a youngster who was bright,  athletic, humorous and wanted the approval of  his father.  The bond between Abraham Lincoln and  his sister is typical of  siblings in any family.  They fight, they joke and in the end will always stick up for one another.  Mr. Mazer touches upon the strained relationship between Abe and his father.  In the author's end notes, he states that Abraham Lincoln had a better relationship with his stepmother than he did with his own father.  As a matter of record,  Abe never returned to his father's farm, not even for his funeral. 

Both books were a delight to read.  They both give rare insights to the personality of one of  the most interesting Presidents in American history.  Use thee books as a supplement to lessons on Abraham Lincoln and President's day.  If  you know of a reader who is fascinated with Abe Lincoln,  you can't go wrong with either one of these books. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why did I do it?

I swore I wasn't going to read the awful book.  I swore I had had way to much exposure to Harry Potter.  I swore the only way to get me to read anything by Rowling again was to put a gun to my head.  Apparently, not only did I read Tales  of Beedle the Bard,  and expose my mind to the world of Harry Potter yet again, and to top it off, there must have been an imaginary gun at to my head because I read the stupid book.  Yes, I mean stupid.  It was awful and a cheap marketing trick for the talentless Rowlings to get make  more off of her uninspiring tale of Harry.   Spare me the details on how this hack of a writer wrote one of the best books of our times.  I can name several authors who are much better at their art then Ms. Rowlings.  She sold out big times with the movies and she never in any of her endeavors match the talent of Lewis or Tolkien.  She is a fraud and even frauds get rich sometimes by  pure luck.   As  the Brits would say, the Tale of Beedle the Bard was a total unimaginative bore!  It was so bad,  I can't even remember half of the stories that glorified the wizards and Hogwarth.  Perhaps it was my mind trying to block out the painful memories of  the book.  Don't waste your precious dollars, or time with this book.  skip it.