Sunday, September 30, 2012

Picture Book of the Month: Otto the Book Bear

To coincide with National Library Card Sign Up Month (and because this book is just too darn incredible to pass up), the Picture Book of the Month for September is Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson.

One of the reasons I picked up this book is because of the books on the cover. I really love books about books. I also really love the little bear, Otto. I have a small teddy bear (as I'm sure many children do) that reminded me so much of Otto. I think children would love to see Otto, partly because he comes to life and comes out of his book.

The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful, and it is a lot of fun looking through and finding the literary characters included within the book. Otto's adventure is something that children will enjoy following, and his happy ending will leave everyone - adults included - feeling good inside. The possibility of characters in books coming to life is something I feel children - and anyone really - will enjoy. I hope to own my own copy for my picture book library someday soon.

Pokemon for Libraries

Monday, September 3, 2012

Picture Book of the Month: City Dog, Country Frog

It has been quite a while (more than a year) since I last made a Picture Book of the Month post. I want to start posting one picture book every month from now on. This picture book will count for August and I'll post the September Picture Book of the Month in a few days.

For August, the picture book I've chosen is City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J Muth. I really love everything about this book: the characters, the illustrations, the dedications, and the message on the back of the book.

The writing is so crisp and clean, so simple but so beautiful. As you follow City Dog and Country Frog and see them become good friends, as you see the beautiful seasons pass by, you begin to wonder what will happen next season. When Fall comes around, you begin to feel somewhat of a sadness in your heart, and Winter just breaks your heart.

This is an absolute must-have book for every library. Young children and adults will both enjoy this book and understand what has happened. This book teaches us to appreciate those we love and care about and to spend as much time with them. I definitely plan on purchasing this book for my personal library in the future.

It is, as the back states, "a heartfelt meditation on time and the lasting impact of friendship." It is "a reflection on the natural course of friendship - and life - that will resonate with readers of all ages."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Similar Books

Every so often I find books that are really similar to one another and I've started a document with all of the similar books grouped together. I've been able to suggest books to children based on this list of books I've gathered, and I've been wanting to post it for others to be able to use for some time. This will be the first of the groups, and all of the posts with similar books will have the same tag in case you are looking for more themes. I will continue to edit the posts as I add more similar books to groups I have already posted.

For this first theme I am going with some of my favorite books (although you will find that all of these books are wonderful!). All of these books have animals that write help columns or letters. Animals + Writing = Awesome!!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Harry Potter Kids Club

Rowling Webcast Will Promote New Potter Kids Club

Associated Press, Tue, July 31, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — J.K. Rowling's next book is for adults, but she will be on hand this fall to help promote a new club for kids, the Harry Potter Reading Club.

Scholastic Inc. announced Tuesday that Rowling will participate in a live webcast at noon, Oct. 11 from her hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, taking live questions from her young fans for the first time since 2007, when the last Potter book came out. The discussion will take place on , the website for an online Potter club launched Tuesday by Scholastic.

Designed for schools and libraries and parents, the new club will include discussion guides, a glossary, interactive features and information on community events. Rowling will contribute original commentary. She has a novel for grown-ups out in September, "The Casual Vacancy."

I really love this! It would be my dream to have this at the library where I work!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Tiger's Wife

I could also call this post Review: Book that took me almost four months to finish. It wasn't that the book was bad or anything like that, for some reason I just would put it down and pick up another. But in the end, maybe a part of me foresaw that I would not want to face the day I would have to put it down for good.

I had been browsing the catalog at work and I have no idea what brought me to this book, but I read the plot and the reviews and I was really intrigued. We had a few copies and I checked one out and started to read. For some reason I found this book to be a somewhat difficult read; I had to really concentrate on what was going on. There are various stories intertwined with the main story and with one another. In a way, this book reminded me so much of another book I just read, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, because of the small stories that connect so well and because of the legends interwoven in both.

At the beginning of the book, Natalia is on her way to provide vaccinations for orphans with her friend Zora, both are doctors. Natalia receives a call from her grandmother, who lets her know that her grandfather has died. Not only that, but he has died in Zdrevkov, in some isolated town all alone. Her grandmother tells her that he had said he was going to find Natalia to help with the inoculations, but Natalia knows that that is not true. So why was her grandfather there in Zdrevkov? What was he looking for?

The story weaves together the present, flashbacks of Natalia's life with her grandfather, and stories of her grandfather's childhood and of the people who were in his life as well as legends. Death is a major theme in the book, and one particular character who was really one of the most interesting parts of the book was the deathless man, cursed to remain alive, to never know death. There are so many beautiful parts in this book, and also so many heartbreaking ones. I began to think, when I came to the last 100 pages, that I might be disappointed in the end, and while I was slightly at first, I realized that the ending was the best ending possible. What is funny about this book is that, even though you find out in the summary and in the first few pages that Natalia's grandfather has died, your sadness about his death grows and grows as the book goes on, as you get to know him better. My heart feels a sadness, it is partly a longing to meet some of the characters in the book. I do recommend this book, if only for the wise advice Natalia's grandfather gives, for his wise actions and good heart.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quiet in the Library

"It's quiet in the Library because all the books are holding their breath waiting to see if you will choose them."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Loss for Literature

Science Fiction pioneer Ray Bradbury, 91, has died
June 6, 2012   8:01am

Ray Bradbury, an iconic science fiction author who helped bring the genre into the mainstream, has died, his family confirms. He was 91.

Bradbury was the recipient of many awards, including a National Medal of Arts, a special citation from the Pulitzer board, a medal for distinguished contribution to American letters from the National Book Foundation, and an Emmy. He is a member of the SF Hall of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a crater on the moon was named for one of his works and an asteroid is named in his honor.
Bradbury served as an affable emissary for science fiction. His futuristic ideas were much sought after: he consulted with both Disney and NASA.

Bradbury wrote his classic "Fahrenheit 451" at a pay-as-you-go typewriter in the basement of UCLA's library. In the book's futuristic world, reading is banned and books are burned. First published in 1953, it has sold more than 10 million copies, been published in 33 languages in 38 countries, and has never gone out of print.

Other notable works by Bradbury are "The Martian Chronicles," "Dandelion Wine" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." In his career, he wrote more than 30 books, hundreds of short stories, plus poetry, plays and books for children. He is credited as a writer on dozens of movie and television projects and worked with John Huston on the screenplay of the 1956 film version of "Moby Dick."

Bradbury was born Aug. 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Ill. He moved to Southern California, where his efforts to become a writer took hold. According to legend, he gave a copy of "The Martian Chronicles" to Christopher Isherwood, and his career was underway.

If there is one Ray Bradbury story you can read this week, please read A Sound of Thunder. I really recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maurice Sendak

'Where Wild Things Are' author Maurice Sendak dies
Associated Press - Tue, May 8, 2012
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — Maurice Sendak, the children's book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen," died early Tuesday. He was 83.
Longtime friend and caretaker Lynn Caponera said she was with him when Sendak died at a hospital in Danbury, Conn. She said he had a stroke on Friday.
"Where the Wild Things Are" earned Sendak a prestigious Caldecott Medal for the best children's book of 1964 and became a hit movie in 2009. President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his vast portfolio of work.
Sendak didn't limit his career to a safe and successful formula of conventional children's books, though it was the pictures he did for wholesome works such as Ruth Krauss' "A Hole Is To Dig" and Else Holmelund Minarik's "Little Bear" that launched his career.
"Where the Wild Things Are," about a boy named Max who goes on a journey — sometimes a rampage — through his own imagination after he is sent to bed without supper, was quite controversial when it was published, and his quirky and borderline scary illustrations for E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Nutcracker" did not have the sugar coating featured in other versions.
Sendak also created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera "Brundibar," which he also put on paper with collaborator Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner in 2003.
He designed the Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker" production that later became a movie shown on television, and he served as producer of various animated TV series based on his illustrations, including "Seven Little Monsters," ''George and Martha" and "Little Bear."
But despite his varied resume, Sendak accepted — and embraced — the label "kiddie-book author."
"I write books as an old man, but in this country you have to be categorized, and I guess a little boy swimming in the nude in a bowl of milk (as in 'In the Night Kitchen') can't be called an adult book," he told The Associated Press in 2003.
"So I write books that seem more suitable for children, and that's OK with me. They are a better audience and tougher critics. Kids tell you what they think, not what they think they should think."
During that 2003 interview, Sendak also felt as if he were part of a dying breed of illustrators who approached their work as craftsmen. "I feel like a dinosaur. There are a few of us left. (We) worked so hard in the '50s and '60s but some have died and computers pushed others out."
Sendak, who did his work in a studio at the Ridgefield, Conn., home he moved into in the early 1960s, never embraced high-tech toys. He did, however, have a collection of Mickey Mouse and other Walt Disney toys displayed throughout the house.
When director Spike Jonez made the movie version of "Where the Wild Things Are," Sendak said he urged the director to remember his view that childhood isn't all sweetness and light. And he was happy with the result.
"In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy" Sendak told the AP in 2009. "There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."
Sendak's own life was clouded by the shadow of the Holocaust. He had said that the events of World War II were the root of his raw and honest artistic style.
Born in 1928 and raised in Brooklyn, Sendak said he remembered the tears shed by his Jewish-Polish immigrant parents as they'd get news of atrocities and the deaths of relatives and friends. "My childhood was about thinking about the kids over there (in Europe). My burden is living for those who didn't," he told the AP.
Sendak, his sister Natalie, and late brother Jack, were the last of the family on his father's side since his other relatives didn't move to the United States before the war. The only family member Sendak really knew on his mother's side was his grandmother.
Sendak didn't go to college and worked a string of odd jobs until he went to work at the famous toy store FAO Schwarz as a window dresser in 1948. But it was his childhood dream to be an illustrator and his break came in 1951 when he was commissioned to do the art for "Wonderful Farm" by Marcel Ayme.
By 1957 he was writing his own books.
Sendak received the international Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration in 1970. In 1983 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association.
But it was "Brundibar," a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother that Sendak completed when he was 75, that he was most proud of. "This is the closest thing to a perfect child I've ever had."
Sendak stayed away from the book-signing bandwagon that many other authors use for publicity; he said he couldn't stand the thought of parents dragging children to wait on line for hours to see a little old man in thick glasses.
"Kids don't know about best sellers," he said. "They go for what they enjoy. They aren't star chasers and they don't suck up. It's why I like them."

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Federal Libraries, Archives Shutting Down in Canada
"Transport Canada's library is now closed, too, with seven workers informed Monday their jobs are obsolete. They will now spend months packing up and told CBC News much of the collection will soon be in the trash."

This is all I can think about:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little Free Libraries

Little library goes by the book
Posted: May 05, 2012, 8:23 am
By Jen Cullen
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
RED WING — The library in front of Robert and Sandy Miller’s home is open 24/7.

No library card is needed to enjoy the modest book collection at 1876 Woodland Drive. There’s no complicated Dewey Decimal system or electronic book catalog to navigate.

You simply open the little library’s door and take a book or leave a book.

That’s the idea behind
Little Free Libraries, a project started in Hudson, Wis., by two men dedicated to promoting literacy and reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.

The simple idea has spread rapidly since the first Little Free Library made its debut. Robert and Sandy Miller’s library — a miniature white house with a red door stacked with 20 to 30 books — is No. 660 of an estimated 1,600 libraries around the world.

A sign on each Little Free Library provides simple instructions: "Take a Book, Leave a Book," though it's not a requirement to do both.

“If you can just get someone to read a book, they will realize what’s in books and they read more,” Robert said. “The more they read, the more they learn.”

Sandy agrees.

Sandy never read books — until she met her husband. Now they both look forward to what their Little Free Library can do for their community.

“You have the world at your fingertips when you read,” she said.

Robert built his Little Free Library a few months ago after seeing a magazine article. An avid woodworker, he figured the project was a perfect way to keep him occupied in his shop.

He and his wife mounted his creation in the front yard, unsure what to expect.

Then the parade of curious people began.

Robert said at least one person stops by each day to either drop off or pick up a book. Most days the library has two or three visitors.

“It has been really neat,” Robert said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

The Millers stocked their library with books they had around the house. Sandy went to the Salvation Army to round out the collection with children’s books.

The stock in their Little Free Library has become quite diverse during the past few months, with everything from a mystery novel written 80 years ago, to cook books, to sewing instructional guides.

Rick Brooks, Little Free Library co-founder, said he started the project not only to promote literacy, but to foster a sense of community and pride in the neighborhoods where the libraries are built.

“People really identify with giving and sharing with what they think is valuable,” he said. “The builders of these libraries don’t see it as they own it. They see it as it belongs to the neighborhood.”

That might explain why so few reports of vandalism are reported. Brooks said residents take watch over the libraries, ensuring they aren’t damaged. When they are, neighbors repair the libraries quickly.

Brooks said approximately 70 percent to 80 percent of the people who have Little Free Libraries build their own.

Libraries can also be ordered online or donated to those who are financially or physically unable to build their own.

“We did hope it would get this big. It’s been fun,” Brooks said. “In our fondest dreams, this is exactly what we hoped would happen.”

To learn more about how to build a Little Free Library or to locate a library in your area, visit the
Little Free Library website.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Great Books for March

I wanted to share a few books that would be great to use in the month of March. The first two are story books that would go great together in a Good Luck theme. The first, The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo, focuses on a young girl and her cat who has used up eight of its nine lives. What will happen when the cat doesn't return? Has the cat used up all nine lives? This beautiful story is wonderfully illustrated and also includes a Native American family. The second book, Good Luck Bear by Greg E. Foley, features a tiny bear who is in search of a four-leaf clover for good luck. With help from his mouse friend, the little bear finds something even more special!

 If you are planning a program about the myths and folklore and culture of Ireland, these two books would be perfect. The Leprechaun's Kingdom: The World of Banshees, Fairies, Demons, Giants, Monsters, Mermaids, Phoukas, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, and Many Others by Peter Haining features descriptions of fairies and other mythological creatures from Ireland along with illustrations and stories. A Pot O' Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and (of Course) Blarney by Kathleen Krull and David McPhail features stories, poetry, and beautiful illustrations all focusing on Ireland. Both of these books would add interesting facts and beautiful images to any program.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jan Berenstain Passes Away

Berenstain Bears Co-creator Jan Berenstain Dies

By Associated Press | Parenting – 3 hours ago

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.
Berenstain suffered a severe stroke on Thursday and died Friday without regaining consciousness, her son Mike Berenstain said.
The gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain children, and later their grandchildren. The stories address children's common concerns and aim to offer guidance on subjects like dentist visits, peer pressure, a new sibling or summer camp.
The first Berenstain Bears book, "The Big Honey Hunt," was published in 1962. Over the years, more than 300 titles have been released in 23 languages - most recently in Arabic and Icelandic - and have become a rite of passage for generations of young readers.
"They say jokes don't travel well, but family humor does," said Jan Berenstain told The Associated Press in 2011. "Family values is what we're all about."
Stan and Jan Berenstain, both Philadelphia natives, were 18 when they met on their first day at art school in 1941.
They married in 1946, after Stan Berenstain returned home from serving as a medical illustrator at a stateside Army hospital during World War II. During that time, Jan Berenstain worked as a draftsman for the Army Corps of Engineers and as a riveter building Navy seaplanes.
Before their family of bear books was born, the young couple had already built a successful career in periodicals. A cartoon series they produced called "All in the Family" ran in McCall's and Good Housekeeping magazines for 35 years, and their art appeared in magazines including Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post.
Stan and Jan Berenstain created hundreds of books until Stan Berenstain's death in 2005 at the age of 82.
Mike Berenstain is an illustrator who collaborated on the books with his mother in recent years. His elder brother, writer Leo Berenstain, is involved with the business end of the family franchise.
The books in recent years have tackled modern subjects such as online safety and childhood obesity, and the bears (or their human helpers) answer children's emails and letters, but the goal is to tell enduring, universal stories. Perennial favorites cover challenges of getting kids to doing chores, defuse fears of the first day of school and teach values of kindness and generosity.
"It's wonderful to do something you love for so many years," Jan Berenstain told the AP in 2011. "Not everyone has that."
About 260 million copies of Berenstain Bears books have been held in the hands of children and their parents since the earliest books were published with the help of Theodor Geisel, a children's books editor at Random House better known as Dr. Seuss.
Mike Berenstain said his mother worked daily at her home studio in an idyllic part of Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, which served as inspiration for the books' setting. He said he will continue writing and illustrating future Berenstain books.
"Every day she was very productive," he said. "She was working on two books and had been doing illustrations until the day before she passed away."
Jan Berenstain is survived by her two sons and four grandchildren.