Tag Archives: children’s literature

Read Across America

Happy Read Across America Day – and Dr. Seuss’s Birthday!

Check out Live-Brary’s info on this celebration here.

Also, Seussville has a great online collection of materials for educators to use in their classrooms to celebrate with kids.



Book Review: “Waiting for the Magic” by Patricia MacLachlan

Waiting for the MagicWaiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

This novel, written by Patricia MacLachlan (author of Sarah, Plain & Tall), I recommend highly for children who are beginning chapter book reading, as well as adults. MacLachlan does an excellent job of treating serious family concerns(absentee fatherhood, pregnancy) through children’s [and pets’] eyes. William and Elinor’s father leaves his family (again) and their mother decides to take corrective action by adopting four dogs and a cat. The family readjusts, and the reader sees, through William’s perspective, the conflicted emotions of being a child in a broken family. MacLachlan not only writes with poignancy, but with a sense of whimsy as well, when the children find out that their new pets can speak to them (Elinor hears first, since all four-year-olds can hear magic, according to the littlest dog). “Waiting for the Magic” is a sweet story that grapples with serious issues with a tone that isn’t ominous, and offers an uplifting message about the endurance of the family. Amy June Bates’ occasional black-and-white sketch illustrations support the text and help the reader to visualize each individual member of the family, human and otherwise.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

How to Give a Cat a Bath, and other dangerous advice

After decompressing from a semester of MLS studies, I’m finally getting back to Mr. Blog.  I’ve been reading a bit here and there, and have even been putting my VCR to good use.

Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I discovered this delightful little series of picture books and illustrated children’s chapter books that center around the life of a very, very bad, bad kitty.

In the original picture book, Bad Kitty, the kitty is loathe to find out that he’s been temporarily restricted to a vegetable diet.  Fortunately, his hazardous protests throughout the house won him back his omnivorous cat food.  The book, and its sequel, Poor Puppy (in which the kitty is introduced to an over-friendly new housemate), incorporate the alphabet and counting, and are devilishly funny and random in their choice of vocabulary.

Additionally, Bruel wrote illustrated chapter books about specific aspects of the kitty’s life, including Bad Kitty Gets a Bath. In this hilarious volume, the kitty’s owner explains the dangers involved in attempting to clean a cat, including injury, death, and pants-wetting.  The book even gives a detailed illustration and explanation of the escalating levels of cat anger as expressed through different hisses.  Any cat-lover (or cat-hater, even) will recognize the high-strung attitude of kitty, something common to many of our feline friends.  I highly recommend these books, to adults and childen.  The picture books are a longer read than most, so keep that in mind when reading with those with shorter attention spans (adults and children included).

Here’s a link to Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty series: click here.

Animals Going to School – Picture Books

For this first week back to school, here are two picture books about reluctant four-legged school-goers:

Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton
It’s Splat’s first day at school, and he’ll use any excuse not to go.  His mother finally drags him through the door, and he begins to enjoy himself.  The artwork in Splat the Cat is excellent, featuring the realistically-furry leading kitty in this humorous picture book.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Chester Raccoon doesn’t want to leave behind his mother, his toys, his books, and his fellow forest friends and go to school.  He’d rather stay home and live like he always has.  But his mother knows a wise old secret, that he can take her love with him wherever he goes.  This picture book features tender illustrations of a teary eyed Chester and is very heartwarming.
What other animals-go-back-to-school books can you recommend? I’m sure there are tons out there.  Thanks!

Bruno and Occupational Awareness for Kids

Bruno is a very busy beaver: he dabbles in carpentry, baking, and tailoring.  In this delightful series of picture books, author Lars Klinting introduces children to the basic tools and ideas of different skilled trades.

In Bruno the Carpenter, Bruno spends an afternoon in his workshop, using all of his hand tools to build a new wooden toolbox.

In Bruno the Tailor, he decides he needs a new apron, and goes about preparing the fabric and sewing together the pieces to make a sturdy apron.

In Bruno the Baker, his little friend Felix helps him to bake a special birthday cake, exploring all the techniques and ingredients in the kitchen.

All of these delightful books explain the creative process for children, and include illustrations of the action as well as pages highlighting the objects that are introduced.  At the end of each book is an explanation for the grown-ups (complete with wood measurements, fabric pattern, and cake recipe, respectively),  so that

they can guide the child through the activity.  I highly recommend these books for parents to introduce their children not only to fun hobbies, but to the possibility of a future career in the skilled trades.

Additionally, Lars Klinting authored at least two books about a similar character named Handy Harvey: Harvey the Painter and Harvey the Gardener.   I haven’t read them yet, but they look promising.

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A Place Where Sunflowers Grow – Book Review

Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a week.  Things from class have been piling up.  I fully intend to keep up more during the fall semester.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
Written by Amy Lee-Tai
Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino

Here is a poignant telling of the author’s mother’s experience as a child living in an internment camp in Utah for Japanese-Americans during World War II. The protagonist, Mari, can’t find anything joyful to think about in the desolate barracks to which her family has been exiled. Her only solace is the hope held in the sunflower seeds she planted in the desert soil, and in her art class. This is a very sweet book, and is more about the character’s struggles with questions she can’t answer than about a sequence of events. The author’s empathetic storytelling and the illustrator’s multimedia style combine to create a commendable book to teach young children about what people went through during this time in history. Also, the book includes Japanese and English translations in parallel, really making this story a great multicultural resource.

For more information about multicultural children’s books, take a look at Children’s Book Press.

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My First Day as a Librarian Trainee

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As I discussed with one of my coworkers (one of the summer pages) during my break today, a career in libraries must really be the right path for me: for the last few months, my professional growth has progressed more smoothly than I could have ever hoped. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently been very blessed with two successive library jobs, along with acceptance to an MLS program. Thanks for letting me revel in the moment!

So, today was my first day working as a Librarian Trainee (“trainee” because I’m still working on my MLS degree.) I was nervous about not having many reference skills, but my fears were put to rest by my supportive coworkers. These lovely librarians guided me gently through my first day sitting at “the big desk.”

Here’s a sampling of all the interesting interactions I had with patrons today:

-registering kids for programs (ie, “baby boogie time,” such cute titles)
-signing kids up for computer stations
-finding Captain Underpants, Cam Jansen, and army-themed books on the shelves with kids
-helping parents schedule time to borrow museum passes (we have a very lucky library!)

I enjoyed the ebb and [very busy!] flow of my short shift.  Even though some parts of the day were more busy than I could handle alone, I felt so satisfied helping so many people today – and I was lucky enough that most of the patrons were very friendly and patient with my emerging know-how.  I’m really looking forward to my next shift on Friday, and to the next few months of learning on-the-job.  Cheers to a great first day as a children’s Librarian Trainee!

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