Friday, April 28, 2006

CEO a bit out of touch? Me thinks Yes!

When the local library system here hired a new CEO back in 2003, there was a lot of controversy already in the works, but many thought more was coming. It seems they were right. The new CEO changed the focus of the tax based spending and has created a rift among the staff and patrons by cutting services/hours and changing staffing levels. In addition, more self-service systems have been installed and positions that formerly required an MLS have been eliminated and retiring librarians are being replaced with less experienced and educated staff. With all that said I still think we have a good library system, but the changes are hard to get use to. Years ago the library was so difficult to use as there was so little staff, even less technology, and virtually no children’s services. Now some are worried, myself included, that we are headed back to those times again. One of my favorite things as a child was to go to the library, but I was always intimidated by the set up and staff. Even when I worked there as a page, the library did not have an inviting feeling. So, when that perception was noted and changed over the last 15-20 years the library and its branches became the place to go. However, it is now beginning to have that old familiar feeling of being distant and uncaring.

In today’s newspaper an article elaborates on how the library is beginning to meet the needs of another part of the population. The “I want to watch a movie” rather than read group. At first when the library shifted a large portion of their spending to include more DVD’s it was thought this would increase the library’s traffic and overall circulation, and it did. However, the circulation of DVD’s went up by over 2.4 million, but the books went down about 2 million. As everyone knows a library needs to maintain a balanced collection, which is hard to do with limited space. So, in the tradition of collection management the library conducts a typical weeding process based on a number of criteria. But, one of things from this article that struck me was if the circulation on books are going down and DVD’s up, shouldn’t the criteria be rethought for books. Also, where is the balance to be maintained with the overall collection? Are they going to start ignoring those that really like books and programs around literature or are those going to be reduced to make more room for a popular media that is widely available elsewhere? I am not an advocate that movies have no place in a library, but it makes one hope that the literary background and history of libraries is not lost. Our library system has survived and even flourished in today’s market of big bookstore cafe type places. If anything, these stores have helped increase the traffic and book circs for the library. Yet, are DVD’s going to do the same?

So, why am I rambling on here about this news article? The comments made by the CEO bordered on “I told you so” and that she thinks she is really in touch with the community. I think to some degree she is reaching a market that was previously left out. And, this one change she made was good, but I think she is also missing the point as to why the overall book circulation is down. This DVD program may be a hit, but I think the overall library and its longtime and traditional patrons are taking another type of “hit” from her cutting of overall services, which I believe are reflected in the numbers reported. You can increase one program and still keep numbers high. The fact that she is glossing over the decreases seems to me she is out of touch on the big picture. There is an example sited in the article with a local library system in the adjacent community. They have actually seen an increase in their books circulation. That library system has an extensive DVD collection and has not cut back on any services or staff. Hummm.

Thanks for letting me vent. (Sorry that some of what I have said is probably vague and leaves a lot of the behind the scenes picture out. Oh, I do not work for them, but have friends that do, plus as a former MLS student a few years back I was fortunate to be able to study several of the surrounding community libraries and the local one as well.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Early Readers - Mr. Putter & Tabby Make a Wish

Mr. Putter & Tabby Make a Wish by Cynthia Rylant 2005

I have yet to pick up a Cynthia Rylant book and not enjoyed it. This particular title is the 14th in her Mr. Putter & Tabby series. It is aimed at early readers and some say reluctant readers. It is divided into three "chapters" and is written with very clear and simple sentence structure. The story centers on Mr. Putter's birthday. While he sits and reads the morning paper with Tabby he realizes that it is his birthday that day. As he reflects upon his birthdays of yesteryear he thinks he is too old to have birthdays now. But, then he rethinks that thought and figures he could at least celebrate with some company. He calls his neighbor and invites her and her dog to tea. During his wait for their arrival he keeps getting calls from her asking if he could wait just a little longer. After several of these calls, he thinks maybe he will not get to celebrate his birthday until next year now. Finally, the time comes to where Mrs. Teaberry (love the name) arrives with her dog Zeke and what a surprise Mr. Putter receives. The story is charming and fun. The illustrator Arthur Howard does a great job with expressing the story through the use of watercolors. Howard really brings out the expressions of Mr. Putter and Tabby in a humorous way. The publisher suggests the book for ages 6 to 8, but depending on the reader's ability it could go a bit more in either direction. Definitely worth looking up at the library.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chapter Books - Series - Laura's Victory

Laura’s Victory by Veda Boyd Jones 2006

This title is one of several in the Sisters in Time series. However, the title should read “How to pack every imaginable life lesson into one book” or something to that affect. When I first spotted this book and several others in the series at the library this past weekend, I thought oh here is another American Girl wannabe. Well, it has its similarities, but it definitely has a lot more depth and history. This particular story covered the affects of the war on families, the injustice of internment camps, racial fears, bigotry, polio, politics, discrimination, rationing, and other problems of World War II, but in a believable way.

Laura is a ten year old and the youngest of seven children. At the beginning of the story you find her helping with her siblings and mother run an apartment type hotel in Seattle, Washington. Her father and one sister work at the Boeing factory and the oldest brother is in the Army somewhere in Europe. Life is filled with lots of drama and trauma for Laura and many of the residents. We get a glimpse of what the world would look like during this time period through Laura’s semi-rose colored glasses, but with a large dose of compassion. Whether this is realistic of children during the latter part of 1945, I am not sure. The story flows fast and is jammed with historical information that most adults can relate to, but I am not sure about the target audience. Of course, I remember reading biographies and other historical books at age ten and loving them. So, maybe I am not giving enough credit to the current generation. Laura encounters her fears and those of others and takes action in dealing with them.

At first it didn’t really phase me that there was the mention of praying to God sporadically throughout the story as it centers around the war period. And, it didn’t occur to me while reading the book that it was produced and marketed as an inspirational fiction for children. It was afterwards that I noticed there was a message indicating the publisher’s mission and they were a member of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. So, if you do not have an aversion to recommending books with references to God, this would be a series (or at least this title) I would put on a list of good reads for ages 10 and up. The book indicates 8 and up, but the dense nature of the story leads me to think it would be a bit too much for the average 8 year old.

It appears there are approximately 24 so far in the series. Barbour publishing states For Girls Only: "Barbour's Sisters in Time historical fiction series tells the engaging, intriguing stories of girls who experienced some of America's greatest historical events. Fictional teen and pre-teen girls are written into actual events showing today's readers what life was like in earlier times." I am not keen on the For Girls Only reference, but it probably fits like with American Girls.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Chapter Books - Series -History Mysteries

Looking for a book or two with a historical twist that even gives some facts without seeming like it is teaching? Well, I suggest giving American Girl History Mysteries a try. Even if you are not an original American Girl series fan, these History Mysteries may change your mind. When first looking at them you may not see that much difference between the series. They both have girls as the primary characters, each story is set in a specific time period, and the girl usually musters up some type of courage to overcome. From this point the story takes somewhat of a different path. No two books in the mysteries use the same time period, geographical area, or character more then once, at least so far. Like most mysteries there is an air of suspense and the secretive clue finding that leads to solving the mystery without or at least very little adult participation.

The topics for some of these books have ranged from 1724 Carolina pirates to the 1812 War and the end of the Civil War through the Women’s Suffragist movement. The stories are fairly straightforward and easy to read, but there is some element of complexity that you do not find in the original American Girl series. There are a number of authors that contribute to this series, but for some reason I have only picked up the ones from two specifically.

Some that I have read include
#1: The Smuggler’s Treasure by Sarah Masters Buckey
#3: The Night Flyers by Elizabeth McDavid Jones
#5: Secrets on 26th Street by Elizabeth McDavid Jones
#9: Watcher in the Piney Woods by Elizabeth McDavid Jones
#13: Enemy in the Fort by Sarah Masters Buckey
#15: Mystery on Skull Island by Elizabeth McDavid Jones

I have tried in the past to share a few of these with boys, particularly those with a topic to spark their interest like pirates. But, unfortunately this is one of those books that says girl all over it. Maybe there is a boy somewhere that isn’t put off by that, but I would doubt there is more then a hand full. I recommend for ages 9 and up. Check out series for more information.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Picture Books - Three Hungry Pigs and the Wolf Who Came to Dinner

Three Hungry Pigs and the Wolf Who Came to Dinner by Charles Santore 2005

When I first picked this book up, I thought it might be a little re-telling of the Three Pigs story. Then after reading it I really can’t see much similarity other than there are three pigs and a wolf. Santore starts off by giving us a little backdrop to the story. It takes place in the Italian hill country of the Alba region where white truffles are a hard to find delicacy and highly prized. Some may have heard more about this edible treat during this past Winter Olympics as they were held near a popular truffle producing area. Santore first introduces us to the heroine, Bianca. She was acquired by a farmer whose daughter took an instant liking to the all white pig, thus her name. As Bianca grew she soon became the most adept of all the farmer’s pigs of finding the valuable truffles. Bianca then began training her own two little piglets to find truffles as well.

Then there is the fateful day where Bianca decides to taste one of the truffles. Oh! She discovers that finding truffles isn’t near as good as eating them. The now once favored pig, alias best truffle hunter, has been disgraced for eating what the farmer believes to be his property. Bianca is then kicked off the farm with her two piglets and must now fend for herself and young. As she wonders the forest she encounters none other then a big bad wolf. As he begins to decide how to proceed with this unexpected pig meeting Bianca pops a truffle in his mouth. Upon his eating the truffle he decides they taste much better then a pig would. Bianca claims that if he will spare them she will teach him how to find truffles. About this time a pack of wolves spy Bianca and her piglets and go for the easy meal. It is then that the lone wolf becomes their defender. The story goes on to find the wolf makes a good baby (pig) sitter in exchange for truffles. If you are looking for a new take on a pig and wolf relationship then this is the story for you. It would be a fun story to share with kids from kindergarten through fourth grade.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Picture Books - Sector 7

Sector 7 by David Wiesner 1999

This is the ultimate in genuine picture books. Without the use of words David Wiesner tells a fascinating tale of a young boy and cloud that begin an unusual and "forbidden" friendship. The young boy is on a class field trip when a young cloud takes a notion to "borrow" the young boy's mittens and other items. Soon the two are off together on an amazing adventure that takes the boy into the cloud's headquarters, Sector 7. There he and his cloud friend make some alterations to the shapes of clouds being produced, which makes everyone a bit happier except of course the cloud administration. Once discovered the two are scolded and the young boy is sent back to his class field trip via an escort, but some things have remained changed in Sector 7.

It is hard to really describe the story and give it the justice it deserves. Every time one looks at the pages one sees more and more of the story that wasn't there just a minute ago. The illustrations are truly worthy of the phrase " A picture is worth a thousand words". This is a great book for a number of kids. My favorite use to be handing it out to those students that had great imaginations and observation abilities. For kids that really like to write it works well in having them "write" the story they see with words. And, it worked really positively for students that were struggling with their reading or those with English as a second language. I would recommend it for kindergarten and up.

Other titles by Wiesner include:
The Loathsome Dragon
June 29, 1999
Free Fall
The Three Pigs

Gonna Roll the Bones


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Picture Books - I Love You Because You're You

I Love You Because You're You by Lisa Baker and Illustrated by David McPhail 2001

It may be another sweet and lovey type book, but it has become a fast favorite in this house. The rhyming text is smooth and a bit lyrical and flows from page to page. The artwork by McPhail is right on target. He captures the expressions and gentleness being conveyed by Baker. As you get to know little fox, you hear the story of his mother's unconditional love and acceptance for him. What more can one ask for? Our little one, who is 14 months, loves to hear it read to her and especially loves the last page with its red heart. She touches it every time. Definitely one to read and I would even venture to say add it to the home collection. Plus, as a parent it is a reassuring read to sooth a soul on a crazy and hectic day. Although really a preschool to kindergarten age book, I say anyone from babies on up would enjoy it. Who doesn't need a little boost from time to time? Great lap book.


New Edition of The Edge of the Forest

Take a minute to check out The Edge of the Forest's latest edition. My favorite is the Kids Pick section as it has some interesting viewpoints on book favorites from none other then kids. There is also an interview with children's writer and poet, Heidi Roemer and many other good articles and book reviews.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Early Readers - Biscuit Visits the Big City

“My First I Can Read Book” is a series that is aimed at budding readers. Sometimes series like these can be a bit difficult for kids to get into as the subject matter and flow are, well, I’ll just come out and say it – Boring! However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Biscuit series authored by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. I recently picked up the latest Biscuit book titled Biscuit Visits the Big City. How delightful! The story is actually engaging and kids can relate to Biscuit’s adventure and energy in discovering new things. Even though the “My First” series indicates it is meant to be shared reading, it could work fine as an on your own book too. The illustrations work well with the words provided and reminds me of the talent that can be seen in picture books. I have seen some Early Readers where for some reason the publisher/editor tends to skimp on talent or at least appeal. But, that is not the case here. Also, Biscuit is available in Spanish and would be great for anyone with students that are learning to read in Spanish.

Mrs. Capucilli has written a number of picture books. One that I found very popular to read to a young audience is that of Inside a House That is Haunted. This is one of several in her Inside titles. When the time comes in our house, I think I will check out her The Potty Book (for girls).

So, if you have a child that is ready to start reading with assistance, give this series a try. I think the reader and "assistant" will find them enjoyable. There are also a couple of other series that are good in the "I Can Read" series (by the same company). These include The Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik for Level 1 reading and then from there the fun Frog & Toad series by Arnold Lobel for Level 2 reading.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boxcar Children and Gertrude Chandler Warner

How could I have forgotten to remember Gertrude Chandler Warner whose birthday was Sunday, April 16? The Boxcar Children are still a mainstay in every public and school library, which also now includes the continued mystery series. Although, I am not in the habit of celebrating birthdays of those who have passed, I do like to take a moment and reflect upon what they have contributed. Unfortunately, when you are a well-known author, many forget to recognize the other contributions made whether big or small. In Ms. Warner's case, Wikipedia reminds us that she also was a Red Cross Volunteer and taught 1st grade for 32 years. In addition, over at you will find a more comprehensive biography of the remarkable life of Ms. Warner. It was interesting to learn that while she was born in 1890 her first book was not published until 1942. So, I say way to go girl.

There are one hundred and four titles in the Boxcar Children's Mystery series and twenty-one in the Boxcar Children's Special series. Also, there are so far twelve in the The Adventures of Benny and Watch: Boxcar Children Early Readers series. Although these are all listed with Ms. Warner as the author, she only wrote the original and the next 18. After her death in 1979, the publisher had an anonymous author(s) restart the series in 1991. Ms. Warner's last book was published in 1976 when she was 86 years old. Amazing. It was also indicated in her bio that she specifically tried to write her stories so that they would be easy to read. When teaching she found that her stories appealed to those that were learning English as a second language. Hummm, an issue that is still present in today's society as well.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Beverly's Books Keep Going

Although her birthday was last week, one can't justly recognize Beverly Cleary with a single day. So, let's take another look and remember that at the age of 90 one can still understand the heart of a child. (Click here to see a list of Cleary's books by Internet Book List or here by Library Think Quest.)

She wrote her first book in 1950 and has covered a number of humorous topics for children. And, her last book was written just seven years ago. After having started her "first" career as a Children's Librarian (awesome), she went on to produce a number of award-winning books. Not many authors can continually be found on library shelves and survive the ever-changing taste of children. Most of Cleary's writings have been elementary age chapter books, but she has also written a few emerging young adult books and picture books.

Many of us came to know Cleary through her many humorous characters like Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, Ellen Tebbits, Ramona Quimby, Socks, etc. How I managed to miss her in all my readings as a young kid, I will never know, but discovering her as an adult has its perks too. The nice thing about her books is you can still get them at the library, bookstore, or just about anywhere. I recently picked up a few of the "classics" at a secondhandprose sell and found my husband's favorite Runaway Ralph.

Some articles and interviews worth looking at include:
1. The Author Profile by Jim Trelease is definitely one to read.
2. Last week's NPR interview with Beverly Cleary.
3. Check out's author bio on Cleary.
4. Irene Sege at the Boston Globe has a pleasant write up.
5. Tracy Grant over at the Washington Post explains well why kids still like Cleary's books.
6. Janie Magruder at The Arizona Republic provides a "Readers Tribute" to Cleary.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Books from Laura Numeroff

If you are looking for some fun books for kids about age 4 to 8, give Laura Joffe Numeroff a try. She is probably most known for her If You Give a Mouse A Cookie book and subsequent series. However, she has a number of other delightful and fun books worth taking a look at. Some titles that would make fun gifts include:
What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best
What Grandmas Do Best/What Grandpas Do Best
What Aunts Do Best/What Uncles Do Best

These are actually two books in one that you read in a flip-over style. Each includes a look at fun things you might find these relatives doing and how it can be appreciated and celebrated by the child in their life.

One of my favorite Numeroff's is that of Beatrice Doesn't Want To. Beatrice has a way of not wanting to do anything especially when she has to go to the library with her brother Henry. Funny, funny.

Some other titles to consider are:
Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles
Monster Munchies
The Chicken Sisters
Why A Disguise?
Two For Stew
Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers
Chimps Don't Wear Glasses
Laura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your Monster
Sherman Crunchley

The If You.....series:
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
If You Give A Moose A Muffin
If You Give A Pig A Pancake
If You Take A Mouse To The Movies
If You Take A Mouse To School
If You Give A Pig A Party
The Best Mouse Cookie

If you find your young one really enjoys these books, try going to Numeroff's website for Fun Activities to do.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Here’s a Vacation Idea

One of the best things about out-of-town vacations besides the obvious is the discovery of new books. What’s that I hear? You say that can be done by just going to the local library and bookstores (chains or independents). Well, yes it can, but when going away to someplace different you get a chance to discover the local authors or at least books solely dedicated to the place you are visiting.

Several years ago, long before our baby blessed our lives, my mother began picking up children’s books for me on her travels. Why? Because I have a passion (some say obsession) for children’s literature and she still spoils me even at my age. Now my husband (who also spoils me) has been treating me to gifts of children’s books pretty much since we began our courtship. But, it was my mother who came up with the idea of giving me books from different locations. Now that we have a beautiful daughter my mother buys books from her travels for her. Of course, I get to read them first (she is only 14 months old).

With mother just returning from a recent trip to the west coast to visit my sister and then on to Hawaii, we are now in receipt of seven new books (which put her over the luggage weight limit). Most are specific to the Islands and include a variety of reading levels. As my mom said, “the baby is going to getting older”. Yes, she is, but hopefully slowly. With what began as nice idea from my mom and now includes my sister and other family, our library is beginning to cover a wide geographically area. Many of these books we would not have otherwise stumbled over in our own library or stores.

So, many of you may already be doing what my mother started for us, but if not give it a try. You may find some really fun books and get to know the area you are visiting better. Or at least, you will be making some fond memories.

A few of the books include:
Sugaring by Jessie Haas and illustrate by Jos. A. Smith (Vermont)

The Ghost of Ichabod Paddack by Warren Hussey Bouton (Nantucket)

Amy, Ben and Catalpa the Cat by Alma S. Coon and illustrated by Gail Owens (Williamsburg)

The Story of Chinaman's Hat by Dean Howell (Hawaii)

Kippy Koala by Maurice Pledger (Australia)


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Bookhive

One of my favorite book resources on just about any kind of children's book is The Bookhive. It is a site put together by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. The Bookhive has a number of components to it and is appropriately titled "Your guide to Children's literature and books".

1. A good place to start in search of something to read is that of "Find a Book". There you will find a topic listing of Recently Reviewed books (by a variety of professionals) and Newer Books (a new feature). Most of the book topics are then divided into specific age categories such as: All, Babies, Toddlers, Preschool, Primary (k-3rd grade), Intermediate (4th-6th grade), or Adult/Parent. Once a topic and then category is chosen you can view the book cover, review, possible comments, and "if you like this, then try...".

2. If you are looking to help the creative writing side of a child, try out "Bee an Author". This is a place where you can "Create a 6 page story about Zinger the Bee to view on-line, print to create your own storybook, or email to a friend!". You can also view other kid's stories, if they have made them available for public viewing.

3. There are also a number of fun activities to try as well. You can take a Harry Potter quiz, create a list of your own favorite books, print coloring pages, or bookplates (many created by book illustrators).

4. Needing a quick story to listen to, try their story telling "Zinger Tales".

So, there you have it. I do not have any association nor have I ever been to this library or its branches, but I do admire their web work. Hopefully more libraries will be able to do something similar (of course funding and staffing are always the sticky point).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Picture Books - Rufus at Work

Rufus at Work by Tory and Norman Taber 2005

We are big animal fans in our house, but especially we love cats and this book definitely tickled our funny bone. Here you will find that Rufus can really defend himself when Posy his owner calls him a fat and lazy cat. Rufus not only provides examples as to how hard he works each day, but also how he helps Posy and she doesn’t even notice it. The story is filled with the usual cat activities that we take for granted, but when recounted by Rufus take on a whole new meaning. For example, Rufus sees it as his job to make sure that the sun does not get on the rug. He also demonstrates how hard it is too make sure that Posy gets up in the morning for school and the work it takes to guard the bird bath. The perspective that Rufus sheds on the life of a cat will make everyone take a second look at the daily antics of cats and how they spend their time.

When I originally picked it up, I wasn’t so sure I would have an interest in the book. The artwork was something that did not appeal to me and there was even a bit of disconnect at first. After reading the book, the artwork began to grow on me, but I still think something a little different could have worked better for the story. The funny thing is I am usually pretty open minded about artwork, but for some reason this one just didn’t hit any of my interest buttons. But hey, I am not a kid and it may really be something for them as it is very much in a cartoonish style.

This is the first book for the husband and wife team and looks as if it would be a good book for preschool to 2nd grade.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Fun Books about Libraries

With a passion for libraries and all they offer I find myself with a weakness when it comes to books that use libraries as the main setting. The following is just a really short list of the vast number of books that I have found that use libraries as the backdrop to the story. The list contains everything from "how to use the library" to "zoo animals that want the latest chapter book to read". Whether you are trying to emphasize the benefits of a library or just looking for a funny read-aloud book, try one of the following. (Although it was celebrated last week, don't you think every week should be a National Library Week? With a slogan like "Change Your World @Your Library" you can't help, but want to go.)

  1. Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
  2. Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
  3. Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss
  4. Wild About Books by Judy Sierra
  5. Red Light, Green Light, Mama and Me by Cari Best
  6. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
  7. The Librarian From The Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler
  8. Stella Louella's Runaway Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  9. The Shelf Elf With Library Lessons by Jackie Hopkins
  10. What Happened to Marion's Book? by Brook Berg
  11. Mr. Wiggle's Library by Carol L. Thompson
  12. I.Q. Goes to the Library by Mary Ann Fraser
  13. I Took My Frog to the Library by Eric A. Kimmel
  14. The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy


Friday, April 07, 2006

Check These Out

If you haven't had a chance yet to check out some of the other book sites I have listed in the side bar, take the opportunity over this weekend. They are really good and discuss a variety of books and other literary issues worth reading about. Plus, their sites also link to a number of other good sites that I haven't included here.

To help get you started:
  1. Book Moot has a review on Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz and it sounds like a can't miss.
  2. At Big A little a there is some information about up and coming teen authors.
  3. Kids Lit has a book review that is so appropriate for what we are dealing with here during all this rain; I'm a Pill Bug. She also comments on a cute book called Hiccupotamus.
  4. Over at Chicken Spaghetti there are a number of interesting articles that we are pointed to especially the one about Reading and Language.
  5. And, A Fuse #8 Production always has good reading. I suggest her latest posting on The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood and also from a few days ago The Sound of Colors. The ongoing feature of Hot Men of Children's Literature is also a treat.

Have fun over the weekend.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Earth Day is April 22

Earth Day has become a global event and will continue to be a way to interest and educate the younger generation in helping protect our environment, even if only in small ways.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem by Linda Glaser and illustrated by Elisa Kleven was recently featured again on Reading Rainbow. This PBS show summarizes the book as “This book reveals a much larger concept of home – the earth, where we all share the same water, air, sun, soil, sky and more". As I watched the program, I thought how great to have a book in poetry style that fits well with the activities of April. It works for April's National Poetry Month and Earth Day that is celebrated on the 22nd. There is also a
book review for Our Big Home from Generation Green Kids. And don’t forget while visiting Generation Green Kids to look over their earth and environment book listing for beginning and intermediate readers. They have a number of fun and fact filled books listed. also provides a number of book titles for all ages and a brief history of Earth Day.

If you are interested in some other websites for information or activities about Earth Day check out these:
EcoKids: Earth Day Canada includes activities along with recommended books
EPA Earth Day includes a list of juvenile books to check out at the library
US Gov’t Earth Day for Kids
Alexandria Earth Day for Kids

Take a minute and think about an example you have or can set for the children in your life to help better care for our earth.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Colfer & Henkes Interviews

Book Page has an interview with Eoin Colfer and a short Children's style interview with Kevin Henkes about their latest book releases in its April edition. Click on their names for the write ups.

Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

Lilly's Big Day by Kevin Henkes

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chapter Books - Deception

Deception is #4 in the Lady Grace Mystery Series and is written by two authors, but listed as Grace Cavendish. I believe this particular one though is written mainly by Jan Burchett.

The series takes place in the Elizabethan time. Grace Cavendish, who is the narrator, keeps a "daybooke" of her life and adventures while serving Queen Elizabeth I as a Maid of Honor. At age twelve when Grace's mother a close companion of the Queen's dies Grace is taken in under Her Majesty's protection. While serving Her Majesty, Grace soon begins to encounter a number of situations that lead the Queen to name her in secret as Lady Pursuivant. Under this new title, Grace has many more freedom's then normal for one her age and station during this time period. In this particular book of the series, one finds Grace pursuing someone who is counterfeiting the new coins that have yet to be released by the Queen's mint. The coins threaten to undo all that the Queen has undertaken to restore the value of Britain's monetary system. Grace, with the help of two very low level servants help track down the counterfeiter and expose several murders along the way.

The series is aimed at 9 - 12 year olds. However, there is a violent nature to this plot and the detailed history make the book a bit on the intricate side. So, if you have a reader who is into a bit more complex reading and doesn't mind a murder or two, check this series out. has a nice write up on all five books so far in the series.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Poetry Month Has Begun

Although I am positive you do not need it, but just a friendly reminder that this is National Poetry Month. As indicated in an earlier posting here, there are a number of different places to find great books to share for all ages even for the most reluctant reader. There are also several good sources for learning how to write poetry.

  1. The Bookhive has a nice listing of several books for K through 6.
  2. Over at On-Lion for Kids there are a number of poem based books to share.
  3. You can also check out the online source for The Academy of American Poets and some background about this month's recognition of poetry.
  4. And, finally there is some interesting reading over at Semicolon with a poetry theme for the Third Carnival of Children’s Literature .

Share a poem with some you love today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Picture Books - Queen of Easter

Queen of Easter by Mary Engelbreit 2006
With so many Easter books available it was hard to select one that really stuck out. So, I chose one that was just charming. It isn’t a religious book, but rather is more nostalgic of days when little girls and women would seek out that perfect Easter Day hat. Of course, there are still a number of people that do this, but it isn’t as common as it once was. Even now many do not seek out that special Easter or spring dress, but Engelbreit takes us back to another time.

Engelbreit has Ann Estelle dreaming of that perfect, most decorated, parade-stopping hat that would make her Queen of Easter. Those who are familiar with Engelbreit’s writings know that Ann Estelle usually seeks to be “the Queen” of anything. Now, when Ann Estelle’s mother brings home her new Easter hat Ann Estelle can’t believe her eyes. Not only is the hat plain, but it has just one ribbon and short at that. Before you know it Ann Estelle has left her hat on the front porch and who should take to it, but none other than a robin. The robin has set up its nest right in Ann Estelle’s hat. While Ann Estelle is redesigning one of her old hats, each day passes with exciting developments in the robin’s nest. Although Ann Estelle has now created her dream hat, she soon realizes that the best ever Easter hat is the one with the newly hatched baby robins.

If you are looking for Easter Picture books in general, Children's Book Review section by Elizabeth Kennedy has a nice listing that includes both secular and religious titles. Over at you can find a number of Passover Celebration books.