Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zen Ghosts

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
Happy almost Halloween everyone! As we prepare for our Halloween parties at the library, I wanted to tell you about a beautiful book, Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth. If you're familiar with Muth's other Zen books, then you already know Stillwater the panda, and his friends Karl, Michael, and Addy. It's Halloween, and the kids are getting their costumes ready. Karl is going to be a monster, Michael either an owl or a pirate. Or an owl pirate. But Addy's moon princess costume reminds Stillwater of an ancient Chinese ghost story, the chilling tale of a girl named Senjo who appears to be in two places at once... The story is an example of a koan, as Mr. Muth explains in an author's note at the end of the book, or a question to contemplate. There is really no right or wrong answer; to intuit is the only point. This may seem like a slightly advanced concept for your child, but consider that the idea of duality is one a person begins to process very early in life: "There's the me I am with my parents, the me I am with my friends, and there is still another me with a different group of friends." Have a philosophical conversation with your youngster, or just enjoy a spooky story, with gorgeous illustrations, with Zen Ghosts. See this book listed in our catalog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meet Wild Boars

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
BEWARE! Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall contains wild boars. Four of them, actually: Boris, Moris, Horace, and (the worst of all) Doris. They are stinky, gross, ill-mannered, and bad-tempered. Do you like them? No? Well they don't like you either. But maybe, just maybe, they could come to your house? They would be sweet wild boars. Kind wild boars. You could show them your toys, and make them a snack, and they could borrow pajamas and sleep in the bed with you. They promise they will be nice, just this one time. OH NO THEY WILL NOT! They will make huge messes and throw huge tantrums and won't say "please" and "thank you" or anything! "Perhaps it is best if we all agree that there is no such thing as a nice wild boar." So the next time you see a cute and fluffy one... you won't be fooled! See this book listed in our catalog

United Tweets of America

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
For the young bird enthusiast in your life, try United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds, Their Stories, Their Glories by Hudson Talbott. This fun and festive non-fiction picture book lists the official bird of all fifty of the United States of America (and the District of Columbia), from the Nene of Hawaii (the rarest state bird) to the Northern Cardinal (the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia)! The parade of birds is presented like a pageant, hosted by the nation's most symbolic bird, the bald eagle! Each bird gets a page with info about the bird, and the state they represent, including the state motto, capital, and interesting facts like... Did you know the state neckwear of Arizona is the bolo tie? The state cookie of Massachusetts is chocolate chip? The state dance of South Carolina is the shag? This pageant could get ugly, with all those beautiful birds vying for top prize, but instead ends in a resounding sing-a-long rendition of "America the Beautiful!" See this book listed in our catalog

13 Words

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
In the tradition (or perhaps parody) of old spelling primers comes 13 Words, a collaboration between Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman, introducing you to thirteen (randomly chosen?) words your young reader needs to know. Words like "despondent." As in "the bird is despondent" with supportive illustration of a sad looking blue bird, with a rain cloud over her head, and a Kafka book to her side. Her friend the dog suggests they eat cake to cheer her up, but she's still despondent. So the dog gets into his "convertible" and takes a trip to the "haberdashery" to get silly hats for him and the bird. Hats with "panache" of course. All of the words you eventually learn are wrapped up in song by a "mezzo-soprano" in the finale of this strange, wonderful book. Like pretty much all of Snicket's work, 13 Words requires a grand amount of inference in order to understand the text, so it will be best enjoyed by your older, more sophisticated child. See this book listed in our catalog or check out the hilarious book trailer

Monday, October 25, 2010

Only a Witch Can Fly

Submitted by Ms. Melissa!
Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is an enchanting tale of a girl's longing to fly. Written in rhyme, using an ancient method called “sestina,” the book flows with a relaxing, lullaby-like quality. The images are created using linoleum cut print, which result in detailed images with few colors. The greens, browns, and black reflect the “Halloween” theme, and help to set the mood: a chilly night with a full moon. This is not a scary read, nor is it something too “childish” to read to an older child. This book has a point, reminiscent of the many “I think I can” books, that uplift and inspire children to try, try again if ever they should fail. Throughout the book you will find words in italics. These words are usually an action and could be read in various ways. You could whisper them, or create a motion to go along with them to add diversity to your story telling. See this book listed in our catalog

Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn't Fit

Submitted by Ms. Janis!
Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn't Fit by Catherine Rayner. Ernest is a big moose with a big problem. He is so big he can't fit inside the book that is written about him! Ernest has a little friend, a chipmunk, that helps him with this problem. With some tape, odd bits of paper, and plenty of enthusiasm, the two make an enormous fold in the page so that Ernest can fit in at the end of the book! This is a great book for seeing possible solutions to a problem, and never giving up--great for beginning problem solving. This book is simple enough to appeal to very young children, and the illustrations are priceless. See this book listed in our catalog

The Legend of the Golden Snail

Submitted by Ms. Sue!
The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base. “Sailing Ship, rise and shine, Hoist your sails and trim them fine, Taste once more the salty brine, for with this spell I make you mine!” That was the enchanted spell cast on the Golden Snail in Wilbur’s favorite book The Legend of the Golden Snail. Wilbur decides to find the Golden Snail, where it was banished to the ends of the earth by the Enchanter, and where it will remain until a new master comes to claim it. So, he sets out on a magical voyage where he comes upon a bush of blossoming butterflies. He could have just gone on his way, but they seemed so hot and thirsty... Wilbur comes across many such things, and strange creatures, on his way where he, the new Grand Enchanter, considers how to help and what to do. What challenges lie ahead on this daring voyage? Find out if Wilbur makes it to the ends of the earth and finds the golden snail, or if what he finds is what he imagined it would be. See this book listed in our cataog

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
You know you're in for a smarter-than-the-average children's book as soon as you crack the cover Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett, with pictures by Adam Rex (what with end-papers displaying old-fashioned looking ads for items such as "Real Ink from Real Octopuses," and snarky author/illustrator dedications such as "dedicate another book to my wife? Like she still notices"). Billy Twitters is quite the disobedient child. His parents threaten to punish him, by buying him a blue whale, but Billy isn't too worried. It's not like you can just get a blue whale delivered to your house. Or can you... It's turns out you can (in this story), and Billy becomes responsible for his own whale, which causes him several problems: His teacher, so inspired by the whale, chooses to lecture on whales instead of showing a promised cowboy movie in class, he's uninvited to Alexis's (the girl whose hair smells like tangerines) pool party, and he's picked on by the school's biggest bully AND biggest nerd! Billy eventually realizes having a whale isn't so bad in this surreal story that boys will probably especially love. See this book listed in our catalog

Beautiful Blackbird

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
Beautiful Blackbird by Coretta Scott King Award winner Ashley Bryan is a wonderful book, with an empowering message. An adaptation of a Zambian folktale, it tells a story of long ago, when all the birds of Africa were all the colors of the rainbow, but the most beautiful by far was Blackbird, whose feathers were all black, and thereby reflected all the colors of the world! The other birds longed to be a beautiful as Blackbird, and asked him to share his color with them. So, Blackbird filled a gourd with the color black, and painted markings on all the other birds with his feather brush. Then all of the birds had black spots, stripes, or rings, and were very happy indeed! With lively paper-cut illustrations, and robust poetry, Ashley Bryan weaves a fantastic tale you and your little one won't soon forget! See this book listed in our catalog

Art & Max

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
Check out the latest from three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner, Art & Max. On the surface, a story of two rambunctious lizards, Art & Max is really a book about the power and possibility of art. Arthur (Art for short) is an experienced painter, painting the finest of portraits. Max is a total beginner. Max wants to paint! What should he paint? Art suggests Max paint him. Max takes this literally, and slathers Art in color! What happens next is a somewhat bizarre, but creative, adventure, leading us to question: Is art still "art" when it's abstract? When it's "just" a drawing? Can art really be defined as one thing or another? And should it be? A soothing desert palette serves as a background to Art's Pollock-esque transformation, and a differentiation in font designates a dialogue between our two title characters. Art & Max is truly a wonder to behold. See this book listed in our catalog

The Duck Who Played the Kazoo

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
Get out your kazoo and play along with The Duck Who Played the Kazoo by Amy E. Sklansky, with pictures by Tiphanie Beeke! Meet a white duck who loves to paddle around his beautiful lake and play his shiny kazoo. But he's awfully lonely since a hurricane blew through, so he says goodbye to his lake, and sets off in search of a new home. He flies south until he finds a river filled with brown ducks. He plays them a tune on the kazoo, and they become fast friends! They have great fun paddling up and down the river, but when the seasons start to change again, our hero thinks of the lake he left behind. He asks his new friends to fly there with him and they all agree! The duck is no longer alone! Your child will hopefully enjoy the poetic rhyme and cadence of this story, and the repeating "zu zu" refrain of the duck's kazoo! See this book listed in our catalog

Oh, Daddy!

Submitted by Ms. Jill!
Oh, Daddy! by Bob Shea is a terrific and funny book to share with your daddy. This little hippo’s daddy is so silly! He doesn’t know how to do the simplest things. Daddy tries getting dressed with his underpants on top, gets into the car via the window, and waters little Hippo instead of the flowers. Good thing little Hippo is such big boy and can show Daddy the right way to do things! This sweet, silly story ends with little Hippo demonstrating to Daddy, for the umpteenth time, the most important skill of all: how to give big hugs! Your little hippo (or daddy) will want to read this book again and again. See this book listed in our catalog

Animal Strike at the Zoo, It's True!

Submitted by Ms. Tammy!
Animal Strike at the Zoo, It’s True! by Karma Wilson. One day, the elephants at the local zoo complain "We’re only paid peanuts!" This starts all the other animals talking about how unfair the pay is, and they all decide to go on strike! Soon the monkeys are demanding a pool, and the zebras want root beer floats. The zookeeper works frantically to grant the silly demands of the animals. Just when it appears all hope is lost, a little girl visiting for the first time bursts into tears over the animals not doing their jobs. A hush comes over the zoo and in that moment the animals realize the importance of their jobs, returning the zoo to normal. The brightly colored illustrations of the animals and the rhythmic text quickly make this book a favorite. See this book listed in our catalog

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Submitted by Ms. Tess!
It might be my penchant for wrinkley-faced canines, or this book's wonderful message of tolerance, but I just love Pugdog by Andrea U'Ren. Mike doesn't know much about dogs. When he brings home his new best friend, he names the pup Pugdog. Pugdog loves to chase squirrels, dig holes, and play tug-of-war! Pugdog loves to chew on bones and get belly rubs! But one day Mike takes Pugdog to the vet and discovers that Pugdog is female. Mike feels awful. He's been treating Pugdog like a boy this whole time! Desperate to right his mistake, he gives Pugdog some lessons on how to be girly. He takes her to the doggy salon, dresses her in a prissy outfit, and points out a pretty poodle in the park for her to emulate. Pugdog is miserable! She tries hard to be a lady, but her heart just isn't in it. Mike finally realizes that he must love Pugdog for who she is, and let her do "boy stuff" if that's what truly makes her happy. See this book listed in our catalog

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Baby Bear's Books

Submitted by Ms. Janis!
Baby Bear’s Books by Jane Yolen. Baby Bear loves to be read to! He always convinces someone to read to him from morning ‘til night. He and his stuffed bee listen to stories, and sometimes Baby Bear “reads” a wordless book aloud. The rhyming phrases will capture a day in the life of this cub as his parents and older brother delight in his love of books. Collage illustrations and other forms of art create great illustrations. The illustrations are large enough to share with a story time group. All of Baby Bear’s activities, such as honey gathering, fishing, eating, and relaxing, are accompanied with reading books. Baby Bear has books piled up on the table, the front porch, shelves, and even the hammock! See this book listed in our catalog

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
One of my most favorite creators of art and literature for children is Shel Silverstein. And his greatest gifts to us, in my opinion, are his books The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. They both send a positive and understated message of self-acceptance and finding peace from within.
The Missing Piece begins "It was missing a piece. And it was not happy." We then proceed to follow "it" as it looks for its missing piece. It rolls along, slowly since it's not complete, singing, and occasionally pausing for a butterfly to land on it. It tries several pieces, until it meets one that fits. Although it is complete, it can no longer sing, and it rolls too fast for butterflies to land. It realizes that it is happy, even though it is flawed, and leaves the missing piece behind, finally at peace with itself. See this book listed in our catalog
In The Missing Piece Meets the Big O we find out what happened to the piece left behind. "The missing piece sat alone..." the book begins. The piece tries to fit in, in various situations. It tries whatever it can--being attractive, being flashy--but the piece just doesn't fit in anywhere. One day the piece meets the Big O. The piece would like to fit in the with Big O, and roll with it, but the Big O is complete, and not missing any pieces. "Perhaps you can roll by yourself" the Big O says. The missing piece is a triangle, not really built for rolling. But it can try, and try it does, and after a while it changes shape, finding it doesn't need to fit with anyone to roll. The piece had what it takes to move on its own all along. See this book listed in our catalog
The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O are books your child can enjoy now, that will have whole new meanings to them when re-read years later.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So Close

Submitted by Ms. Tess!
So Close by Natalia Colombo is a breath-taking book about the power of "hello." It's about a duck and a rabbit who see each other every day. They pass each other on the way to work, and the way home. Whether they're walking, or driving their cars. Whether they're in a hurry, or looking sad. They always walk right by each other and never say "hello." But, as the book says, "what a difference one little word could make." Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit seem to live very lonely lives, and if they would only just say "hello" to one another, they might make a very good friend! This is a great book to demonstrate to your little one the importance of kindness, even in the form of just a friendly greeting, and how that can lead to very special relationships! See this book listed in our catalog

Big Scary Monster

Submitted by Ms. Carol!
Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty is a story about a monster who is indeed very big and scary. He lives on a mountain, and all the little creatures that live on the mountain are very scared of the Big Scary Monster. He would jump out and scare all the little creatures when they least expected it. The little creatures began to hide from the Big Scary Monster. Big Scary Monster begins to get bored because he has nobody to scare. He looks down in the valley and sees other creatures playing and decides to go down and scare them. But when Big Scary Monster gets there he realizes that he is not so big anymore... the creatures are much bigger than him! The big creatures jump out and scare Big Scary Monster when he least expects it. He runs all the way back up the mountain. When he gets back he is so lonely he begins to cry. Then, when he least expects it, all the small creatures jump out and scare him all at once. After that they all become friends and play together happily. Of course their favorite game is "BOO!" See this book listed in our catalog

Monday, October 4, 2010

Too Purpley!

Submitted by Ms. Catherine!
They say clothes make the man. But what about the three-year-old? Anyone who knows a child knows that opinions start early. In Too Purpley by Jean Reidy, and illustrated by Genevieve LeLoup, a little girl cannot decide what to wear one day. As someone who once (at the age of three) downright refused to get dressed for preschool because I only had purple clothing, and that morning I decided that my favorite color was pink, I was able to identify with this book. The book opens with a little girl declaring loudly that she will not wear these clothes! Each page features her dressed in outfits that are simply “too purpley,” “too stripey,” and even “too feathery.” The illustrations are bright and fun, and provide a chance for kids to point out just what’s wrong with each outfit. By the end of the book, all will cheer when our heroine finds the absolutely perfect outfit - “So comfy and just right!” See this book listed in our catalog

Lily's Victory Garden

Submitted by Ms. Allana!
Surprisingly touching and brilliantly told, Lily’s Victory Garden by Helen L. Wilbur is a story about a family during war time. Young children often struggle with historical fiction, because they don’t relate to the past or to the children of a different era. I believe that this book is one of a few really great generation-gap fillers because of the themes of family relationships, the nature of giving, helping each other, and pulling together during hardships, all of which transcend time. The style of illustration by Robert Gantt Steele, a trained architect, is called “portraiture,” which works wonderfully with this story. Lily is too young to join the town lottery for a small plot of garden, so she approaches a neighbor who has the largest garden in the area. She discovers that the lady of the house is very sick, and the husband doesn’t want to be bothered, but the wife steps in to encourage the project, and the result is very moving. I loved this book, and think it will be enjoyed by many families. See this book listed in our catalog

Turkey Trouble

Submitted by Ms. Amanda!
Thanksgiving makes me think of Turkey, but it makes Turkey nervous! In Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, Turkey has a big problem! Thanksgiving is approaching, and Farmer Joe is looking for him. Turkey has a great idea to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner: he will dress like a horse, because surely Farmer Joe wouldn't eat a horse for Thanksgiving dinner. It turns out that Turkey is too short to be a horse, so he dresses as a cow but he is too thin to be a cow. Next, Turkey dresses as a pig, but he is too clean to be a pig, so he decides to dress as a sheep, but that doesn't work either. Then it hits Turkey... he can disguise himself as a rooster to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner! But wait... what if Farmer Joe decides to have Rooster for Thanksgiving when he can't find Turkey? Finally Turkey comes up with his best idea yet: he disguises himself as a pizza delivery man and delivers Farmer Joe a pizza for Thanksgiving dinner! Yum! Pizza for Thanksgiving dinner! This is great story for both kids and adults. The illustrations of each of Turkey's disguises are great! See this book listed in our catalog
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