It's that time of year again, awards season! Sure the Oscars and Golden Globes may get the most media attention, but the announcement every children's librarian looks forward to is the Caldecott Medal. Each year the Caldecott Medal is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children". The ALSC may also name a few runners-up, or Honor Books. We'll learn the 2013 medal winner tomorrow, Monday, January 28th.
So who will win the 2013 medal? In anticipation of this year's announcement our Children's Department pulled as many contenders as we could find. We chose our books based on recommendations from School Library Journal, Horn Book, and the more populist list put together by Goodreads. We dubbed our cart of thirty-some books "The Caldecart" and over the past week we've read as many of them as we could, making notes and picking our favorites. Was there a consensus? Nope! But here are a few of the books we liked the best and a few on which we couldn't quite agree. Read more »
The versatile Mo Willems, author and illustrator of popular picture books about the much loved Knuffle Bunny, the demanding Pigeon, and Early Readers featuring good friends Elephant and Piggie, has unleashed his creative humor into the realm of classic folk tales. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs as retold by Willems, follows the basic plot of the familiar story featuring the three bears and an adventurous blond haired girl. But instead of porridge, the dinosaurs are preparing bowls of delicious chocolate pudding at varying temperatures. They seem to be setting a trap for an “unsuspecting kid” as they loudly announce their departure for “someplace else” – not necessarily a walk in the woods. Read more »
I've always loved the artwork of Maira Kalman and was pleased to see she has a new picture book out this year - on good ol' Abe Lincoln. Her presentation of Lincoln is both biographical and based on her own impressions of how he must have felt in certain situations, so to call this book strictly nonfiction might be a bit of a stretch. (Additionally, complex history is, of necessity, oversimplified - so parents and teachers may want to provide more context for children just being introduced to slavery and the American Civil War.) But don't let these small complaints keep you from reading this book with your kids. Kalman provides a child-friendly portrait of Lincoln and his family and adeptly hits the high points in the life of the great historical figure. I especially like her notes on various topics in the back of the book - such as the one that explains that members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters abide by the motto "We are ready, willing and ABE L." For some lovely examples of Kalman's quirky, colorful art, as well as her writing, see her old blog for the New York Times, called "And the Pursuit of Happiness." Recommended for grades 2 and up.
We receive wonderful questions from kids at our “Ask Questions Here” desk, and in our programs. But we also get a lot of terrific statements. One of my favorites is: “I know that book!” or “I know that story!” This statement is typically shared as an excited, gleeful shout. It feels good to know something. It’s empowering.
Children’s librarians have a long history of sharing classic nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales with children: Three Little Kittens, Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Besides being part of our cultural literacy, these stories lay a foundation for an understanding of character, sequence, and plot. Familiarity with folk and fairytales – and the ability to retell familiar stories - also is an expectation of our state’s curriculum standards.
And how do these stories become familiar to our children? By hearing them, reading them – even seeing them performed – repeatedly, of course. Read a picture book version of the story together, listen to it on audiobook, tell it in your own words; invite your child to tell the story to you. One of the extra fun things about folk tales is comparing the different versions of the same story. How does James Marshall’s version of The Three Little Pigs compare to Paul Galdone’s version? And once a child is familiar with the classic tale, they may have greater appreciation for the spin-offs and variants, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
Huff & Puff is a new picture book variation of The Three Little Pigs folktale. It’s funny and clever enough to be enjoyed in its own right, but children who know the classic tale will have a jump start on predicting what’s going to happen in this story – and being pleasantly surprised by the different conclusion. This version also presents a unique way to invite participation in the story. There are small holes cut out in the pages through which the reader is invited to HUFF & PUFF. If you play the part of the wolf and huff and puff hard enough, the consequence is apparent when you turn the page! Give it a try. Invite your child to take a first step to becoming a storyteller. Provide an opportunity for them to tell you what they know.
Our Summer Reading Program has taken off like a rocket! Our theme this year is Dream Big: Read! – a fun theme with many interpretations. Sometimes, you might want to read simply to escape into a dream world for a while. And, of course, your librarians will tell you that the ability to read gives you the ability to achieve your dreams, for learning to read enables you to read to learn. We are unabashed advocates of the notion that knowledge is power. Learning about something, learning how to do something can inspire and empower you to act, to do, to become! Read more »
Some of us are cat people and some of us are dog people. I am a cat person. I am not a dog person. That’s not to say I don’t like dogs. I do. Really. Long ago, I even shared a home with a sweet beagle for a time. It’s just that after that experience, I prefer to enjoy other people’s dogs in their homes or parks or even at the library where we have some wonderful dogs come in and visit. But even though I am not a dog person, I still appreciate a good dog story, and recently have enjoyed some delightful stories about dogs. Read more »
Sometimes the simplest of stories convey complex ideas most beautifully. More by I.C. Springman has just a few words on each page, but the illustrations vividly depict the hazards of collecting too much “stuff.” The story features a magpie - a crow-like bird that folklore recognizes for its attraction to shiny objects – and which commonly describes someone who collects odds and ends of little value. (I do believe I am parent to a couple of magpies!) Read more »
Jane Goodall has had a lovely life. From her childhood love of the outdoors to the chance day she contacted famed scientist Louis Leakey, she always knew what she wanted to do: go to Africa and work to help animals. In her life, Goodall has been many things, including an activist for the environment and a UN Ambassador of Peace; however she is most known for her lengthy career working with chimpanzees. In 2011, two books were created that help us to explore Jane’s life from its roots to the present. Read more »
On Monday, January 23, we will be celebrating award-winning books all day with special programs. The American Library Association announces the 2012 Youth Media award winners at around 8 am that morning. Join us at 10 am for a special storytime where we will feature picture books from years past that have won a Caldecott Award for their illustrations.
Last year's winner, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, is especially popular this time of year when sniffles and sneezes run rampant. Amos is a zookeeper who consistently cares for his friends at the zoo, always making time to play chess with the elephant and run races with the tortoise. When he is too sick to take the bus to the zoo one morning, his friends decide to travel to him! They cheer him up with some quiet, sitting-in-bed activities. Amos feels better by the end of the day, and the visit turns into a sleepover. Since the story concludes with everyone saying goodnight to each other and looking forward to the next day, this soothing picturebook serves as a gentle bedtime story, too, with appeal to ages 3-8.
Hurrah for end of the year “best of” lists! They often tip me off to some great reads, or games or films, etc. that I hadn’t yet discovered on my own. But they also often affirm that I wasn’t the only one who thought a particular book or movie was worthy of special mention. That’s the case with I Want My Hat Back, a picture book by Jon Klassen. I was pleasantly surprised to see this title included on the New York Times list of Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011. The story features a large bear who has lost his hat. When he meets different woodland animals, he asks each one: Have you seen my hat? They each respond in the negative, but the pictures tell a different story, and bear is a bit slow to realize that one of the animals was not telling him the truth! The story itself is slight, but the short sentences, repetition, and mischievous humor will hold appeal for beginner readers looking for a funny story to read on their own – as well as older readers who enjoy a slightly devious tale!