Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Whatever the Weather by Carol Thompson

 I am completely in love with this new series of board books from Child's Play.

There are four titles in Carol Thompson's Whatever the Weather series, each featuring a diverse cast of happy toddlers enjoying the weather.

Rain shows a small child and her stuffed toy as a big gray cloud forms overhead. Rain pours down and her emotions shift from bewilderment to surprise to delight as she splashes in the puddles. When the rain stops, the puddles are still there for her (and her now dripping toy) to enjoy, complete with a rainbow. There is a very simple, limited vocabulary "Rain  drops. Plip plop. Drip drop, plip plop."

 In the opposite number, Sun, a happy group of toddlers experiences the delights of a sunny day in summer. A big yellow sun is repeated in the illustrations on each page. The adorably plump, multi-hued babies put on their sun hats and sunscreen, take off their clothes, splash in their wading pools, and dance in the sunset, repeating the mini sun artwork waved by one girl on the first page. In the final spread, one toddler is shown in a walker with an oxygen tube - I think this is the first time I've ever seen a child with a disability depicted in a board book. Toddlers will love this one, with the lovely colors and textures of the hats and other props and happy babies cavorting on each page. Don't forget to talk about the shadows and look to find your own!

Snow is a warm tribute to Keats' classic, Snowy Day, featuring a curly-haired toddler excitedly experiencing the wonder of winter. Looking out the window in his yellow pajamas, he exuberantly yells "Snow!" then puts on his red jacket, white hat with bobble, and the rest of his snow clothes to go outside. He slides and falls in the snow, admires his crunching footprints and cloudy breath, then builds a whole bench of "snow monsters" complete with stick arms and faces. Chilly, he goes inside and waves goodnight to his snow monsters from the window.

While most toddlers won't recognize the tribute to Keats, parents will chuckle over the gentle reminders and enjoy this toddler-appropriate version of the classic tale.

The final book in this series, Wind, is my favorite. I love windy days and the group of happy toddlers clearly join me in this delight. The first spread show four giggling babies and a dog, all with wild, blowing hair (or ears!). On the following pages, the wind blows away hats, ruffles hair, whooshes dandelions and pinwheels, until finally, on the final spread, it quiets and a little girl, with a leaf in her hair, peacefully looks down at a now still pinwheel.

The pages are full of the exciting, whooshing wind, with spinning leaves and bits of paper, flapping clothes, and happy, delighted toddlers, enjoying the wild and windy weather

Thompson's art is full of soft, vibrant colors and interesting shapes. The sweet, colorful drawings, reminiscent of Helen Oxenbury, are given additional dimension with collage. Brightly colored bits of paper make leaves, a sun, snow, and speckled black and white birth tree trunks.

Each book is six pages long, laid out in a sturdy 7x7 inch square. They're an affordable $5 and perfect for toddlers who are just beginning to explore the world around them. This was my first introduction to Carol Thompson's board books and I loved them so much I went back and found several other titles she's done to add to our board book collection as well - Snug, Blankies, and Little Movers (series).

Verdict: These are the perfect addition to your board book section; they would work well as read-alouds for a small lapsit storytime or one-on-one reading. The diverse cast is just one more bonus for these delightful books that toddlers are sure to love. Highly recommended.

Rain
ISBN: 9781846436833

Sun
ISBN: 9781846436802

Snow
ISBN: 9781846436819

Wind
ISBN: 9781846436826

Published 2015 by Child's Play; Review copies provided by publisher; Donated to the library




Monday, February 23, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

Scientists in the Field has many awesome authors and illustrators, but when you see a new collaboration from Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop you know it's going to be especially great.

This book chronicles the efforts of Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund to save the endangered cheetahs of Namibia. The book begins with a map locating Namibia, then introduces Laurie and several of her students as well as the ambassadors, a set of cheetahs who cannot be released into the wild and so serve as ambassadors for the CCF. After the introduction, and a page of facts about cheetahs, the book goes into more detail about Laurie Marker's life and how she came to be in charge of the CCF. Interspersed with more facts about cheetahs and history of Namibia, the book then branches into two main themes; Laurie Marker's unique efforts to conserve the cheetahs be working with local farmers, and the scientific study of cheetahs that goes on at the center.

Back matter includes a bibliography and resources, acknowledgements and index.

Of course, the book is packed with photos of adorable, awe-inspiring, and active cheetahs. There are also photos of the various people involved in the center, activities in the laboratory, and pictures of the stunning landscape and other wildlife that inhabits the area.

Verdict: This is one of the best entries in the Scientists in the Field series and one that I strongly recommend. It's a perfect blend of inspiration and science, and encourages kids to dig deeper and think about a popular topic (cheetahs). Like all the books in this series, it does a great job of showing the viewpoint of the local inhabitants and their involvement in the project. I'm sometimes sad that, although they're such great books, this series doesn't circulate as much as I wish it would - that will be no issue with this title. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780547815497; Published 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Summer Proposal

I spent a lot of time and work on my proposal for summer reading this year, which I took to our staff meeting earlier this week (The staff meeting is all the department heads - youth services, technical services, adult services, circulation, and director. Everyone gives input, but the director has the final decision) and then to another meeting with the director and adult services librarian (who was not able to be at the staff meeting). This is a more structured version of the shorthand I used to present to the staff with some tweaking from suggestions.

Results:
This was my sky-in-the-pie dream, so I didn't expect to do ALL of it! Just get it out there for discussion. We're going to stick with the CSLP theme this year, pretty definitely go to the calendars as logs, and prizes are still under discussion - we are almost definitely not doing the plastic crap, but are discussing food coupons or small candies. I'm working on some compromises and tweaks to adjust to staff's suggestions and concerns. Personally, I'm more of a risk-taker and am generally in the field of "let's just try it and see what happens!" but summer reading is run from several desks (I don't have enough staff to cover the children's desk in the evenings and on Saturday) so it needs to work for everyone.

The plan
  • Go back to registration; a simple online sign-up recording child's name, age, and school.
  • When people request the summer calendar, which they will do starting in May, they get signed up. Sign up continues throughout the summer, as always. While supplies last, they will get a small prize, donated by a local artist, at sign-up.
  • The program calendar is the summer reading log! (this is a rough draft, built on last year's calendar, so not all dates etc. are correct)
    • When they have 5 days crossed off, they get stamped and put a sticker on Rocket's Reading Doghouse (giant cardboard construction)
    • We will also keep markers etc. at the youth services desk and kids can add a decoration to the doghouse along with their sticker, if time and inclination allow
    • Forget their calendar? Just stamp their hand!
    • Little ones want to keep their stickers? Go ahead!
    • Big families only want one calendar to keep track of? Just write all the kids' names on one calendar!
    • In July, participants return their June page to receive a packet of passes (received through the consortium)
    • In August, they return their July calendar and get to go into Rocket's Reading Castle (the Storyroom) and pick out a book to keep.
  • Other reading programs (participants can do the calendar program as well if they want)
    • Ages 0-3 will still do Rubber Ducky Readers
    • 6th grade and up can put their checkout receipts into a box for a chance to win a small prize each week, total cost of all prizes not to exceed $100 (I think I got this idea from a discussion on the Facebook Teen Librarians group) winners will be posted on Facebook and the teen bulletin board.
    • We will continue the Queen of Summer Reading competition (the school librarian with the highest participation wins the title and a snazzy necklace for the next year and I give all the elementary school librarians a list of participants, who all get to pick from the prize box when they return to school)
  • The last change - brand all reading programs with Rocket from the Paws to Read theme purchased from ILA in 2013. We will still use the superhero and other CSLP themes for programs, displays, etc. but Rocket = Reading Program Time!
Why brand summer reading with one theme?
  • Save $$ by not having to buy new marketing materials each year
  • Save time not making an entire new decorating scheme each year
  • Brand reading programs with a memorable character that will clue in parents and kids that it's reading program time!
  • Build collaboration with local community organizations; specifically, the animal shelter
  • Most patrons don't notice or care about the theme and it doesn't help market summer reading; it's a lot of time, money, and work for no purpose
  • If Rocket doesn't work out, we can always go back to the different themes every year - it's not an irreversible change!
Why get rid of plastic crap and simplify summer reading?
  • Disproportionate time and money spent on summer reading.
    • In 2014 we spent over $1,200 on summer reading. This is roughly the same amount spent on performers and only about $500 less than spent on programming supplies for the entire year. This does not include time spent on all the summer reading processes, requesting donations (most of whom no longer donate), etc.
    • Performers brought in over 1100 in attendance, our total programming numbers were over 12,000. Summer reading has stayed steady around 500 participants with only small increases each year.
  • Patrons don't care or don't want prizes
    • I informally polled as many parents as possible last summer, especially our most frequent library users. The most-preferred prize was a book and the most frequent request was to make sure all the kids could receive a book as a prize.
    • The parents who most like the plastic prizes were those with preschool or younger kids and all said stickers would be just as good
  • Make the program easier for participants and reach a wider audience
    • The most frequent reasons I heard from non-participants and those who didn't participate more than a week or two were:
      • They lose the bookmarks and don't realize they can keep going
      • They don't sign up at the beginning and think it's too late
      • It's too much work to keep track of reading and remember the bookmarks (we replace a lot of forgotten/lost bookmarks)
    • Reaching more kids
      • There are two ends of the spectrum for readers; kids who struggle to read even 15 minutes a day (required by the bookmarks) and kids who easily read an hour or more every day and are not being challenged.
    • This loose, casual program will allow kids and parents to set goals that fit their family's needs and allow the youth services department to focus on providing programs, stellar reader's advisory, and and a welcoming atmosphere, rather than enforcing rules, being the "library police" or prize distribution. Kids will be able to focus on enjoying the library, rather than getting their piece of cheap crap.
Projected results
  • The 5% who currently complain or don’t participate because of prizes will participate
  • The 5% who are in it for the prizes (and usually hit multiple libraries) will complain as usual and then continue to participate in other libraries' SRP as usual.
  • 90% won’t care.
  • I anticipate that our yearly slow increase in participation (about 50 each year) will continue
What’s the worst that could happen?
Everyone hates it and complains, participation drops. Next year we go back to the regular program and everyone forgets about it.

Resources
  • These aren't ALL the resources I consulted, just some of the most accessible I pulled together for the staff meeting and to refresh my points in my head. I also had many conversations with other librarians, including with a Milwaukee librarian (they have been doing the same theme for quite a few years now) and at conferences.
  • I asked for take-away quotes from Storytime Underground on Facebook to bolster my presentation. These are some of the responses.
    • It is eco friendly to scale down on small plastic prizes with huge carbon footprints!
    • We have become a "plastic junk free" zone. Our wonderful system Summer Reading coordinator scores many books for us to give to children to keep. 
    • As a parent who hated the plastic junk I eliminated it from summer reading years ago.
    • Because the plastic junk is just that... Junk. It gets pitched as soon as possible by parents, is of no real value, and, in my mind, does not motivate. Junk.
    • We went cold turkey on plastic tchotchkes last year for exactly the reason you stated above -- we wanted to use the money for something else. We expected a huge outcry, but only about three people even mentioned the "prize box" and those people were adults. The kids never noticed. Woohoo!
    • We took the money that would have been used for prizes and had the kids "earn" an animal through Heifer International. It was very popular and we had no complaints about prizes.
    • We started not giving out little toys/trinkets every week to the little kids. We only had 3 parents complain that their child did not get a toy. Most were happy not to get a cheap piece of plastic that they would lose interest in by the time they got to the car. Worked for us!
    • I used to give books away as prizes via a weekly raffle, plus we had personal sticker sheets posted around the room and a communal bulletin board kids could contribute to every time they read for the SRP. I know some people really think that plastic trinkets motivate but I honestly believe that praise and public displays of accomplishment are what really work and stick with kids the most. When I stopped plastic toys cold turkey, no kid ever complained. The only negative remarks I received were from adults.
Philosophy: I really want to, as I think Marge Loch-Wouters may have said, "get off the summer reading train." No more "earning" prizes, no more spending most of our time at the desk processing reading logs, handing out prizes, discussing with parents whether they can get an extra log for vacation and then an extra prize when they come back, and so on and so on and so on. Personally, if summer reading participation was cut in half and people went to neighboring libraries with "better" prizes....I wouldn't care. If your only motivation for coming to the library is to get a prize, I'm fine with you visiting another library instead. And I don't mean that in a nasty way; we have more than enough patrons to go around and plenty of libraries with different service models of summer reading, so there's something for everyone - I don't have to be that something for everyone. I'm fine with changing the program a little - or a lot - every year to fit what we've learned and how our patron base changes from year to year. I've made changes, always including smaller prizes every year and every year summer reading participation grows.

So, the discussion continues - baby steps every year and we'll see what happens this year!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This week at the library; or, It is Officially Too Cold

What's going on, in my head and at the library
  • Seriously cold. There is ice on the inside of my windows. So. Cold. I ordered another dehumidifer, hoping to help with my cough and cold-that-never-ends. Maybe, at this point, it's actually the plague. Or something. Being sick does not make me more cheerful. Also, I could not sleep several nights this week and I redid my three main blogs.
  • Monday
    • I presented my plan for summer reading at the staff meeting, struggled through some program plans, tidied some displays, went on the information desk for the evening, wrote up the staff minutes, sorted through new books, and did a little more work on weeding the dinosaur books. Also hauled out our legos for a teacher I'm lending them to and stayed late with a stranded patron.
  • Tuesday
    • Worked more with my new associate, Jess, then she went to help Pattie with storytime and I did...something...made fruit pictures for storytime tomorrow. Something else I think...We went to do storytimes at the school together, thank goodness she came because I have almost no voice. I don't know what I'm going to do for my three storytimes on Thursday. When we came back she tried out some alone time on the desk and I dealt with invoices. In the contest between me and my desk, my desk is winning.
  • Wednesday
    • I did storytime and then some time on the information desk, then worked out a more or less regular schedule with Jess (and revealed by catastrophic inability to do math that involves time) and then we went over the marketing for the next month or so. She started working on it and, set free and with a song in my heart (although that might have been because my lunch was uneatable so I just had an orange) I went off to work on the signage for the neighborhoohds and a second summer reading meeting with the director and adult services librarian. Then, that night, realized that even after spending forever on Jess's schedule I messed it up (seriously, I cannot deal with math that involves time) and had to update the calendar because I shorted her hours. Oy.
  • Thursday
    • I was hopeful that school would be cancelled; not that the library would close, but I had 3 outreach visits scheduled this morning and storytime interrupted by wracking coughs is not fun for anyone. Of course, it did not close. I made it fine through storytime though, albeit with some coughing on the side (and coughing in return, so I've probably reinfected myself). I had an impromptu meeting with Pattie about our huge April program and a performer who's coming for some school classes in April as well, and then Mad Scientists Club. There were only a few people there, which was actually fine because I kept having to deal with things that I'd forgotten but absolutely had to be done before I left. I finally left over an hour late, leaving a massive chaotic black hole in place of my desk, cart piled high with vinegar and assorted goods in the storyroom, and then after I went to the grocery store in the freezing dark (forgot to pick up a prescription) and got home I spent the next couple hours emailing all the things I had forgotten anyways.
  • Friday - Vacation!
    • I have a long list of things to do, reviewing among them. I have a stack of really fun, lovely things from Penguin - Smick and Little Baby Buttercup among them. And I just got Chicago Review Press' new book, Zoology for Kids. Plus all the things from ALA Midwinter.
Programs
Stealth Programs
What the kids are reading: Selections
  • There must have been, like, 5 people asking me for Peppa Pig books in the last couple weeks.
  • Stumper which turned out to be Pony Called Lightning by Miriam Mason - a library in the consortium has it.
  • Lots of requests for Battle of the Books
  • Discussion with parent whose elementary daughter reads at a middle school level and likes sports books with girls. Sigh. That's why it's on my Dreaming of Books list.
  • Battle of the Books - but at another school district!
  • Where is Ida B.? it was accidentally returned yesterday. How could it have been lost in less than a day? Four staff members searching, and it finally showed up in adult fiction.
  • Batman! The most adorable three year old Batman fan. I steered him and his grandpa to the Brave and the Bold movies and comics. After some consideration, he took the one with Green Lantern on the cover, after discussion as to whether or not GL had caused the vines to attack Batman. But it was probably Poison Ivy he decided.
  • Where's Waldo
  • Magic School Bus books
  • One of my book club members told me she read her book in an hour and a half! We agreed that she should pick more than one book next time!

Friday, February 20, 2015

This is a moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Really funny books are hard to review. Humor is so...subjective. However, I just had to talk about this one.

Every year, when I visit all the schools in May/June, I take one or two funny picture books. I read samples or the whole thing to every class from kindergarteners up to sixth grade. 2014 I took two books - My Humongous Hamster and This is a Moose. The kids loved the hamster, but the most frequent requests I had at the library afterwards, and continuing well into the fall, were for "the moose book".

The endpaper shows a shadow of a moose behind a camera lens. A voice yells "Focus!" and we turn the page to see the film begin "This is a moose - take one!" We behold the mighty moose, descendant of many mooses. He wants to be an astronaut. Wait, WHAT?? The unseen director goes on, getting more and more exasperated as he tries to film a "normal" moose and gets interrupted by the moose's unnatural ambitions, his grandmother, a random giraffe (who wants to be a doctor), and all the woodland creatures helping the moose achieve his goal. There's a surprise at the end as we discover who the director actually is - and everyone realizes that maybe we can be whatever we want.

Tom Lichtenheld's colored pencil illustrations have the perfect blend of friendly illustration and wacky humor to capture kids' attention. I really like that his art is friendly and accessible, but doesn't overpower the story. He complements the text with little side jokes and perfect timing in the pictures to maximize the humor.

Verdict: This could be a sententious story about how you don't have to stay in the little box of what society expects of you. Honestly, however, I doubt that many, if any, kids will bring away that thought. It's just a hilarious story about a moose. And that's awesome.

ISBN: 9780316213608; Published 2014 by Little, Brown; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Small Readers: The Super Secret Adventure Club by George McClements

I like some of McClements' picture books, Baron von Baddie and the Ice Ray Incident particularly, but I really could not get behind this easy reader.

The story is told completely through dialogue and the pictures. Older brother Sam is annoyed by pesky younger sister Bea as he tries to choose a name for his clubhouse with his friends, Matt and Luke. As each one imagines a different use for their stack of cardboard boxes, it morphs into the thing with annoyed sister Bea along for the ride. For example, when one of the boys declares it a Rocket, named Space Place, it shows the boys shooting across space in their rocket with Bea as a pink alien glaring from her saucer. Finally, Bea yells that they should stop talking about their "Super Secret Adventure Club" and the boys happily take the name and settle down in their club.

The collage-style art is not unattractive and one of the boys is dark-skinned with curly hair (although I'm personally reluctant to count friends towards diversity - why not the main character?). However, I found the art to feel very stiff and posed; there was no life or movement in it. The text was scattered in different places throughout the artwork, in widely varying fonts, colors and shapes. This isn't helpful for a beginning reader. It's not like Toon books where they carefully place the text in an orderly way within the comic panels; here the kids not only have to deal with the the struggles of a beginning reader, they've got to hunt for the text they're supposed to read.

The two things that really annoyed me, and which put this in a do not purchase pile for me, was first the old, tired stereotype of a boys-only clubhouse. Yes, I do realize that it could easily fall into the "annoying younger sibling" however, there's no resolution of this part of the plot. At the beginning there's a squabble over the flag, which Bea claims is hers. She doesn't get thanked for naming the clubhouse, apologized to for the boys' noisy play disrupting her tea party, or really recognized at all. Not to mention - boys playing with an imaginary rocket, T-Rex and pirate ship vs. girl in pink having a tea party - stereotypical much?

The other thing that annoyed me, but which isn't particularly germane to the book, is that this is yet another paperback from Scholastic rebound by one of those ubiquitous prebound companies. A significant chunk of the artwork disappears down the gutter and it makes the pictures really confusing - one of them nearly wipes out Bea-as-pterodactyl, and other take an inch or so out of the middle of pictures making them look like a jumble of shapes and colors. Baker and Taylor's prebinds are so much nicer, without the binding companies logo splashed all over the book, and usually without the issues of the gutter and they're not more expensive, often significantly less. I'm not in favor of libraries using these companies to populate their easy reader and picture book sections with substandard bindings.

Verdict: Not recommended, either the book itself or the binding. I will wait for McClements to come up with something a little more unique - I know he has it in him.

ISBN: 9780545436854; Published 2012 by Scholastic/prebound by Book Farm; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, February 16, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Feathers: Not just for flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

I was sure I had reviewed this title - and then realized that I hadn't at all! I merely thought I had because I used it an an outreach visit to kindergarten classes and we had such an involved discussion (specifically around whether or not penguins have feathers) that I thought I'd reviewed it. This is the winner of the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category in Cybils and deserves every accolade that can be heaped up on it, in my opinion.

The book begins with an expanded spread of the cover, introducing the idea that feathers do many different things. The illustrations show different types and sizes of feathers of a particular bird and the text explains one of their uses. This illustration also pictures a familiar object to the compare to the feather's use. The bird is also pictured in a detailed illustration, the caption including its name and location.

So, for example, a tricolored heron is shown spreading out its wings like an umbrella to shade itself from the sun. The illustrations include a small and large feather and a tiny umbrella. The pages have the smooth, slightly textured look of an eggshell with the illustrations drawn so they look like pictures and found objects attached to a scrapbook. Some have tape or tiny pins drawn to look as though they are holding the pictures to the pages, while the feathers and other objects are delicately shadowed to give the impression that they are 3 dimensional objects.

The text is separated into a simple sentence "Feathers can glide like a sled" and then supplemented with additional text in captions and on the paper shapes added to the "scrapbook". Information on different types of feathers, with illustrations, and an author's note which mentions research methods are included at the back.

Verdict: The layered text makes this accessible for a wide range of readers and listeners, from very young to elementary age children. The illustration style is not only interesting and beautiful, it may also inspire children to create their own nature notebooks. A lovely, useful book, highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781580894302; Published 2014 by Charlesbridge; Purchased for the library

Sunday, February 15, 2015

RA RA Read: Read-Aloud or Easy Nonfiction

It's been a while since I've done a RA RA Read, but I finally finished the other Sunday posts I've been doing and I had some ideas for new themes that I've been saving. A few years ago I started getting interested in nonfiction for younger children, especially incorporating it into programs. Today I'm the organizing chair for the elementary and middle grade nonfiction for Cybils and include nonfiction in all my storytimes. I have storytimes specifically based around nonfiction themes and books - We Explore Nature, and outreach programs that heavily use nonfiction, like Autumnal Animalia. So, today I'm offering some of the authors and titles I use and recommend most frequently to introduce preschool children to nonfiction.

You'll probably quickly notice that when I say "nonfiction" I almost exclusively mean "science and animals", as I put into the title of this post. When I "read" nonfiction in storytime, it's always a dialogue with the children. Often we end up reading very little of the actual text as we discuss the art and concepts presented. Narrative nonfiction is a whole different bundle of twigs and I have strong feelings about picture book biographies anyways.

Authors

  • Jim Arnosky
    • A classic nature writer. Every Autumn Comes the Bear is a storytime favorite, but I've used many other titles - Bayou Babies, Racoons and Ripe Corn etc. to great effect.
  • Dianna Hutts Aston
    • Her series of books, gorgeously illustrated by Sylvia Long, have my favorite "layered" text; bold, simple sentences to read aloud, and more dense text for additional information. A Seed is Sleepy, An Egg is Quiet, etc.
  • Nic Bishop
    • He's not only a stunning nature photographer, he's quite a good writer too. His books are easily adapted to reading with small children. We use Snakes, Lizards, Butterflies and Moths, Frogs, and Marsupials on a regular basis.
  • Nicola Davies
    • A huge variety of books, focusing mainly on animals. Her "Flip the flap and find out" series is a mainstay of my outreach programs and we can spend an entire program just discussing the events in What Happens Next? I've also used Dolphin Baby and I'm looking forward to trying a program with Tiny Creatures
  • Suzi Eszterhas
    • These simple stories feature one animal's life cycle from birth to adulthood. They are adorable and make excellent read-alouds. I especially love Brown Bear because...bears.
  • Steve Jenkins
    • This is one of the most prolific nonfiction authors for young children. I've used his books in flannelboard matching games like What do you do with a tail like this? and another favorite of mine is Down Down Down.
  • April Pulley Sayre
  • Cathryn and John Sill
  • Melissa Stewart
    • My favorites are her weather/habitats series - Under the Snow, When rain falls, Beneath the sun.
  • Susan Stockdale
    • Her simple, rhyming stories work really well with toddlers as well as preschoolers. I love her latest, Stripes of all types, and I've used Fabulous Fishes for many, many storytimes.
Titles
A Small Selection of Narrative Nonfiction

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This week at the library; or, Vacation is a fleeting dream

Yes, I take awful pictures.
What's going on, in my head and at the library
  • I created a new page for my blog, intended to sort of go with my awards/collection development posts. Basically it's the kind of books I'm looking for (right now). Realistic middle grade fiction featuring Latinas? More tractor books? BRING THEM ON!
  • I took Monday and Tuesday off and promptly came down with a sinus infection. Drat. I hadn't really planned anything though (actually, I forgot I had taken days off until, like, Friday afternoon).
  • My new associate started on Wednesday! My first time training a professional staff member (I, er, didn't really train my summer person last year - I stole her from another library... Hopefully I will get it right...I got some really helpful advice from other librarians and I'm determined! I had a painful sore throat, so it was lovely to have someone to help out at storytime when I visited the schools
  • Then I opened a mysterious box on my desk and I GOT A HILDA DOLL!!! Hilda is going to live at home with me for the foreseeable future (and, of course, I must now buy ALL the books for myself.
  • Yay! TWO schools are signed up for the fifth grade program! It is so much easier (for me) when the fifth grades come to the library for my big program instead of me visiting them at the schools before summer reading. They're a whole different audience than kindergarten - fourth and I have to bring a whole separate bag of books for them! This year I've got Science Alliance, a local group, who is pretty awesome.
  • My other big project this week was laying out my plan for a new summer reading program - I'm presenting it to the staff on Monday. Wish me luck - if it doesn't get approved, I'm going to have to do a heck of a lot of fundraising to get enough money for all the plastic crap I didn't plan to buy this year.
  • Cybils winners!!
Programs
  • I can't believe I didn't talk to a single kid about books this week! This makes me sad.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nana in the city by Lauren Castillo

I really like Lauren Castillo's books. It's funny how much harder it is to review titles that you like though. It all seems to devolve into vague mumbling about "fantastic" and "wonderful" but I will do my best.

A little boy goes to stay with his nana at her new home in the city. At first, he's unhappy. The city is noisy and busy and scary; how can Nana be happy here? But then she makes him a superhero cape and shows him how wonderful the city is. She shows him a park, live music and friendly dogs. They give a pretzel to a homeless man and he smiles at them, and the city lights up at night. The little boy is delighted to discover that "The city is busy, the city is loud, and it is the absolute perfect place for a nana to live."

Castillo's illustrations have bold colors and broad lines. Bright red accents make Nana stand out against the sometimes drab city background. At the beginning, when the little boy is frightening, the city looms over them and the busy streets are full of faceless people. As he gets to know the city, color explodes across the urban landscape and people come into focus.

Verdict: This is a unique and wonderful celebration of trying new things. It's definitely a different take on the typical grandparent picture book, which usually involves them visiting their grandkids and entertaining them. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780544104433; Published 2014 by Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Purchased for the library