Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

Ruth and the Green Book


When I got my first car, I couldn't wait to take a road trip of my own. I'd spent plenty of time in the "wayback" of the family station wagon as a kid attempting to read while my Dad switched the radio back and forth from baseball broadcasts to classical music stations. Now I'd be in the driver's seat and could choose what to listen to and when and where to stop for a rest break! The road atlas was my guide as I set off on my own from Chicago to visit my brother in Pennsylvania.

When Ruth and her family set off in the early 1950s on a road trip from Chicago to Alabama, they needed something in addition to a road map to guide their trip. They needed "The Green Book." "The Green Book," author Calvin Alexander Ramsey explains in his picturebook Ruth and the Green Book was developed in 1936 by a postman named Victor H. Green to help black people who were traveling. The book listed by city all the restaurants, hotels, gas stations and businesses that would serve African Americans during the era of "Jim Crow" laws when many establishments, especially in the South, refused to admit blacks.

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Teenaged Freedom Fighter


Lafayette and the American Revolution by Russell Freedman tells the fascinating story of a young man who helped our nation gain its independence in the Revolutionary War. Orphaned at twelve, Gilbert de Motier, marquis de Lafayette was one of the wealthiest young aristocrats in France. Married at sixteen, he was already a father by the age of nineteen when he left France to aid the American revolutionaries in their struggle to win freedom from the British king.

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Ready for Action!


Want to know how to fend off a shark, cross piranha-infested waters, or escape from quicksand? Do you know how to find water in the desert, escape from a crocodile, or survive when you're stranded on an iceberg? The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook [Extreme] Junior Edition tells you how to survive these and many other dangers.

With helpful diagrams and simple instructions, this book makes it easy for you to get ready for your next adventure. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

Interrupting Chicken

Knock knock.

Who's there?
Interrupting Cow!
Interrupting Cow wh-
MOOOO!


David Ezra Stein knows another version of one of my favorite knock-knock jokes. His is about an interrupting chicken instead of a cow! That joke inspired this delightful, funny picture book about a little red chicken being read to by her Papa. Will she ever let him finish a story the way it's written? The action takes place in a house and bedroom every bit as cozy as those in Goodnight Moon. Stein both wrote and illustrated Interrupting Chicken, a 2011 Caldecott Honor Book,

Tomie dePaola Wins ALA Award!

So many wonderful books received awards from the American Library Association earlier this week. You can view the complete list of ALA's Youth Media Awards online. But I wanted to give a big HURRAH! to one of my favorite author/illustrators who received special recognition from ALA for his body of work: Tomie dePaola. DePaola received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, "honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

There are so many reasons to love Tomie: his sense of humor, his appreciation of a child's perspective, his beautiful artwork, his versatility. He writes, he illustrates. He works with both fiction and nonfiction, folktales and nursery rhymes, bible stories and poetry. I think I became particularly fond of Tomie when I discovered he shares my Irish/Italian heritage - which he describes in his autobiography 26 Fairmount Avenue, a 2000 Newbery Honor winner.
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A Splendid Friend, Indeed


Well, it doesn't generate quite the excitement that Oscar night might bring. And we won't be wearing our sleeveless ball gowns to the library on Monday (at least I won't be!)... Nevertheless, we are eagerly anticipating the announcement on Monday, January 10, of the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards for 2011.

These awards include the esteemed Newbery Medal, awarded for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children in the past year, and the Caldecott Medal which recognizes the most distinguished American picture book for children. See the ALA's Youth Media Awards for a complete listing of the different types of literature honored annually.
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Through My Eyes

Fifty years ago, it fell to a little girl named Ruby to be the first black person to attend William Frantz Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's normal now for people of all skin colors to go to school together, but sadly, in 1960, there were still many ignorant people who thought that white-skinned people were better than others and should not have to share their schools. Even after federal courts ordered that public schools be integrated, some states, including Louisiana, objected. It was a dangerous time for African Americans in the United States, especially in the south. Some of the white people who believed black people should remain separate from white people did hateful or even violent things.

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The Girl Who Could Fly

Doesn't everyone wish they could fly? Well, if that wish were to come true, it might cause a lot more problems than you think! Meet Piper McCloud, born to loving but simple parents who strongly believe in doing things the way they've always been done. When Piper accidentally reveals her talent, her parents are horrified that others might find out. Soon their worst fears are realized, and to protect her and themselves, they agree to have her go with Dr. Leticia Hellion to an institute that deals with children with special talents.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Homer P. Figg and his older brother Harold are orphans, and their sad lives are made even more wretched by their mean guardian, Uncle Squinton. "Squint" forces Harold to be conscripted into the Union Army even though he is underage, and Homer is compelled to try to rescue his brother before he is killed in the savagery of the Civil War. Thus begin The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. (Mostly true, because to Homer, telling the truth "don't come easy.") It's unusual to have a humorous book that takes place in a time of war, and though plenty of sad things happen, the author (Rodman Philbrick, who also wrote the famed YA novel Freak the Mighty) succeeds in keeping a lighter tone which kids and parents will appreciate. I hope you'll enjoy the folksy humor and fascinating characters as much as I did! (This book is a 2010 Newbery Honor book and is recommended for grades 5-8.)

Exploring the Titanic


Robert Ballard is my hero. Dr. Ballard is a scientist, inventor, and a deep-sea explorer. He is most famous for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, 12,460 feet beneath the sea. The Titanic was the largest ship ever built in her time. She was as tall as an eleven story building and almost four city blocks long. The unique design of her hull was supposed to make her unsinkable, but in the middle of her first voyage the huge ship struck an iceberg and sank in the dark, icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. Only 705 of the Titanic's 2,223 passengers and crew survived. Ever since the Titanic sank, people have been fascinated with the story and many have wondered about the location of the monster ship on the ocean floor.

Seventy-four years later, Bob Ballard led a team of scientists in a mission to discover the lost Titanic. Using Argo, the deep sea underwater robot craft Dr. Ballard developed, tethered to a research vessel called the Knorr, the team explored the region of the ocean where the ship went down. They tried for weeks to find the Titanic, but without any luck. Then Dr. Ballard thought of a new way to search. He knew that when things fall in deep water, they leave a long tail of debris, like a comet. He hoped that they might find a trail of wreckage from the ship that would lead them to the Titanic. He was right! With only days left to complete their mission, the team discovered a line of man-made objects that led them directly to the Titanic.
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