Friday, September 30, 2011

Library Find - Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden

One thing I especially appreciate about our local libraries is that the staff members take the time to incorporate diversity into their displays. Although I work for the library system, I don't work in a branch, so I don't know how much extra time this takes, but we're grateful. Every time we go into the library, Sprout can see characters on the covers of books who have skin and hair like his, or like his friends. This is such a huge step forward in making everyone feel welcome -- kudos to all librarians, pages, booksellers and other staffers who take the time to do this!

The other day Sprout ran right over to the shelf and pulled down Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden. No surprise why -- the cover features a gorgeous African American boy with a plane overhead (win win for Sprout!). The illustration style looked familiar, with a rich color palate, careful use of shading and simple details that nevertheless add complexity. As soon as I flipped to the back I saw why, as illustrator Don Tate also did one of our favorite recent reads, Summer Sun Risin'.

The book relates an incident in the life of Ron McNair, a little boy from South Carolina who grew up to be an astronaut. As a boy, Ron loved the library, but as an African American child in the 1950's, he was not allowed to check out any books. Several of the white patrons would take out books on their cards for Ron. But one day Ron decided he had had enough, and he refused to leave the library until he was allowed to check out his books. The desk clerk refused to give him a card, and soon Ron's mother and even the police were called. But nothing could make Ron budge -- until, at last, the head librarian did the right thing and gave Ron his own library card.

If I thought the story wouldn't hold Sprout's interest, I was wrong. He was riveted through the whole thing. This is the first book we've read where racism was openly discussed, but it won't be the last -- we know that our child will encounter hatred in his life, and we intend to prepare him the best we can for that, with tools like these. And I couldn't help comparing Ron's experience at the library with ours today, fifty years later, when Sprout can go into a library and see books that represent diversity in all its forms. No, we're not a perfect society yet, and we have a long way to go until equality is realized for all our citizens. But on this day, it warmed my heart to see my beautiful Ethiopian son carry Ron's Big Mission up to the counter, hand the librarian our library card, and walk away with a smile on his face.

Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden, published by Dutton Children's Books
All ages
Source: Library
Sample quote: "At last Ron found some books on airplanes. He took the books and started to walk to the front desk. Ron felt nervous and his hands felt a little sweaty, but he knew what he wanted to do."
Highly recommended

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Audio Review - The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine

Mike Frost knows a little something about unusual people. After all, his dad is not what you'd call a normal guy -- math genius, yes, but not like other guy's dads. But having an odd dad doesn't prepare Mike for spending the summer with relatives he's never met. Poppy and Moo, Mike's great-uncle and great-aunt, are certainly strange. Moo names inanimate objects and thinks her car, Tyrone, has a mind of his own. Poppy doesn't talk to anyone and rarely even moves out of his chair. And the more Mike gets to know Poppy and Moo's friends and neighbrs, the more Mike realizes that his relatives are hardly the oddest ducks in town.

To top that off, Mike's supposed to be working on an engineering project with Poppy. In fact, that's why Mike's dad sent him out here for the summer. But instead, Mike soon finds himself deeply embroiled in a fundraising drive to help Moo's friend adopt a child from Romania. Before long Mike is coordinating town events, working out of a homeless man's "office", and trying everything to get Moo to give up driving Tyrone. Oh, and above all, keeping his dad from finding out what he's really working on. This is turning out to be way more complicated than a physics problem!

I am really torn about how I feel about The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine. On the one hand, there are some great lessons to be had here, about grief and loss, about coming to terms with major life shifts, and learning to find the secret strength within yourself. Mike is pretty down on himself when the book opens, mainly because he feels he'll never live up to his father's dreams thanks to his learning disabilities. It's only when Mike starts reaching out and helping others -- Moo, Past, Misha in Romania -- that he is able to see the potential for his own future. In addition, Mike learns a little something about making things happen, and how real life is not black-and-white like a math equation.  The best part is that Erskine delivers all of these big truths in a fast-paced, hilarious narrative. Really, there are some moments you have to hear to believe, especially where the always entertaining Moo is concerned (voiced surprisingly convincingly by Noah Galvin).

But, as an adoptive parent, I did have some issues with the way the whole "bring home an orphan from Romania" storyline was handled. First, there are many, many references to "saving" Misha by bringing him to the US. This is a tough one, because it implies that international adoption is the only solution for Misha. While it's true that in many countries domestic adoption is unpopular or nonexistent, most of us agree that the best thing is for children to stay in their home country. Leaving behind your home and heritage represents a compromise that many times will result in a lot of grief and loss for a child, who will not necessarily be grateful to be in another country.

Another point that bothered me is that Mike and his friends take on the fundraising and paperwork completion for the prospective adoptive parent. This is just not how things work in international adoption, as most of us know -- ethical adoptions require months and years of paperwork, background checks, verifications, and most of all legal processes on the parts of both countries. This is not something that a third party can do for you; as a prospective adoptive parent, you have to do all of this work on your own. Much of this has to be in place before a family is ever matched with a child. And the idea that the money can be cobbled together in less than a month, while it makes for great dramatic tension, is just unbelievable in all senses.

These are small points (and there are others) that won't get in the way of the story for most people. For me, though, it gave me pause, mainly because of the way the potential mother is written -- as though she is barely involved in her own adoption process, and that she perceives herself as "saving" a child. If Sprout does read this when he's older, it will give us the opportunity to talk about how people outside the adoption community view the process. We can talk about how much a child gives up when he/she is adopted, and how that might make a child like Misha feel. We can discuss parental motivations in adoption, and how it's critical to think more about parenting in the long haul rather than just completing the adoption. And we can talk about how wonderful it is that this town pulls together to make the adoption a reality -- and how that is a very simplified look at a complicated, and life-altering process for all involved.

Bottom line: I'd still recommend this, but with reservations. It is hard for me to get around the absolutely idealized version of international adoption, and the larger messages that sends about relationships and family bonds. It's definitely a novel with a great deal of heart, and one whose characters will make you laugh and cry in just about equal measures; if you can look past the adoption missteps, you'll find a great deal of value here.

The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine, audio published by Recorded Books
Ages 12 up
Source: Library
Recommended, with reservations

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Link Love - Reading Rainbow, Award Predictions, & Kadir Nelson

Wow, links aplenty this time! Jumping right in --

~ First, since I'm in a scholarly mood (writing papers will do that to you), here's a study that shows that reading fiction makes you a better person! OK, maybe not a better person, but possibly a more empathetic one, and therefore better at getting along with others. So novels can, theoretically, make the world a better place -- as I always suspected.

~ Remember Reading Rainbow? So many excellent picture books gained attention via this PBS show. In an effort to transfer this success to another platform, LeVar Burton is launching RRKidz, a digital library that is subscription-based and will feature plenty of opportunities for interaction. Great news for backlist titles that might just reach a whole new audience!

~ Early literacy is crucial, which is why shows like Reading Rainbow are important. This piece from School Library Journal takes a look at another early intervention program, Raising a Reader, and the amazing effect their bright red bags have had. And from the Seattle Times, a piece about the tireless work of all the dedicated folks at Reading is Fundamental. In the face of insurmountable challenges, the staff of this organizations soldier on. Heroes, every one.

~ I can't figure out what I think about this essay. On the one hand, anything to get kids reading, right? On the other -- and maybe this is just me -- doesn't that backlit display kind of suck all the romance out of curling up with a book??

~ Shifting gears a bit, the last couple of weeks have seen announcements of big names releasing kids books. Here's one that I'm kind of surprised didn't happen sooner. And here's one that makes me kind of sad -- when will publishers decide to leave well enough alone? Which brings up another question: can celebrities write good children's books?

~ It's no secret that I completely love Kadir Nelson, and just the cover of his new book, Heart and Soul, has me drooling. Add this one to your library queue now, and plan some time to share it with the kiddos in your life. It's guaranteed to be a must-see.

~ Taunting me from my TBR stack is the new Jack Gantos novel, Dead End in Norvelt. I'm pouncing on that one just as soon as I get a handle on all this reading for school, trust me. And it looks like I'm not the only one who considers Gantos a rock star -- check out this homage to Jack from Seven Impossible Things.

~ National Hispanic Heritage month runs from September 15 to October 15. If you're in search of titles for your classroom, library, or just want to get in the spirit of things, Diversity in YA has a terrific list. I especially love that this is a mix of titles old and new. Thanks to

~ Kinda late with this one, but the 2011 winner of Nerds Heart YA has been announced. Here's more about the verdict and the book that won, What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson. Such fun to watch the tournament results unfold -- and I can't wait to read the winner, too!

~ Speaking of awards season, it's heating up. Here's Fuse #8 on her 2012 predictions. Some great titles here -- yay for Okay for Now! And, for another take, the PW Shelftalker blog considers illustrators that have been overlooked by the Caldecott. You may just be surprised (I was!).

~ And finally, let's close with a perfect match -- Read Aloud Dad on Winnie the Pooh. It's already a struggle to wait until I can share the silly old bear with Sprout. This review has me thinking I might just have to break down and reread them myself first. For research purposes, of course (wink).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

International Day of Peace

Today, September 21, is the day declared by the UN as International Day of Peace. For families and teachers interested in multiculturalism, this is a great day to observe all the ways people around the world are similar, and can come together in the name of peace. Our hopes and dreams for a peaceful world are present all year long, of course. Still, observing International Day of Peace gives us an opportunity to reflect on what being a citizen of the world means, and to celebrate our unique cultures and ways of life.

For preschoolers, there are some fantastic picture books that add to any International Day of Peace unit or celebration. I especially love Karen Katz's Can You Say Peace?. Katz's folk-art inspired illustrations are lively and colorful, a feast for the eyes and the imagination. Each spread features a different nation and teaches how to say peace in that country's language.  One page reads "May lives in China. / May says he ping (hey ping)." May's family is shown on the banks of a river, watching boats go by and gazing at the beautiful mountains. May herself is depicted in a colorful kimono, with rosy cheeks and shiny black hair, and the peace she speaks of is reflected in her sweet smile. Can You Say Peace? is one even the youngest toddler can appreciate.

Todd Parr is well known as an author and illustrator whose picture books represent diversity in all its forms. Parr isn't afraid of color and it shows -- if you've ever seen one of his books you know that his seemingly simple illustrations are set off by a bold palette of primary shades, perfect for drawing the eye. In The Peace Book, Parr not only includes his customary multicultural perspective, he also defines peace in a variety of interesting, thought-provoking ways. Peace is not only "planting a tree", it is also "reading all different kinds of books". The latter might not spring immediately to mind when you think of peace, but the tolerance that suggestion affirms is, at its very core, the definition of peace between peoples. I love that "peace is being who you are", whether that's a green-skinned mohawk-wearer, or a blue-skinned lady with a huge bouffant. Hooray!

Peace is not just a feeling, it's an experience for all the senses -- or so is the message underlying What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky. If you are looking for a way to underscore the point that people of the world all experience the same feelings and desires, this title is a good choice. Bright, simple illustrations accompany a number of ways that peace can be sensed, felt, tasted, touched. Peace smells like "a bouquet of flowers in a happy family's living room" but also "pizza with onions and sausage" (and what kiddo can't relate to that?). While this choice might be too simple for older kids, it would fit nicely with other books about peace as a grouping for preschool age and younger.

International Day of Peace goes far beyond the reaches of our living room -- but that's where we'll be starting, with a selection of picture books like these that help us appreciate difference and celebrate the common dream of peace for all peoples.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture Book Review - Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell

Soo Min isn't sure about this new home of hers. Nothing is like it was back home in Korea. The food, her new house, the sounds outside her window at night. Though her American mother and father are nice, they cannot speak her language. Soo Min teaches them some Korean words, but it isn't the same. The only thing that Soo Min finds comforting is Goyangi, the American cat. Goyangi's fur is soft and he is quiet, which makes Soo Min feel peaceful too.

But then one morning Goyangi gets out of the house, and Soo Min can't stop worrying about her friend. All day Soo Min and her mother look for Goyangi, but the cat does not reappear. What will Soo Min do without Goyangi? She is very worried -- and at last, when Goyangi comes back at the end of the night, Soo Min realizes that this is home, with her new parents, in this unfamiliar house, but with Goyangi right there by her side.

Goyangi Means Cat is a gentle story that explores the loneliness a newly adopted child feels, when he or she is settling into an entirely strange and sometimes frightening place. The artwork by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher is fantastic -- these are the kind of pictures you could pore over, examining all the small details woven into the backgrounds via paper collage. An especially nice touch is the interweaving of Korean words into the text, a technique the artists used to demonstrate the blending together of Soo Min's experiences, both at home in Korea and now at home in America. This title would make a great addition to any child's library, but is especially wonderful for Korean children as a touchstone with their heritage and culture.

For siblings and family members who want to understand better what their children are going through, as well as for the child feeling all alone in a world they do not recognize, this is a simple and reassuring tale. It's also a good reminder for parents that although our children may act as though everything is all right, inside they may be confused and lonely. Even a small change in Soo Min's routine, like a trip to the library, seems like too much at first, and Soo Min longs for the comfort of her friend Goyangi. Although Soo Min knows her American parents care for her, she feels isolated without a common language. But the language of her four-footed friend sustains her, helping ease Soo Min into the transition of a new home and family.

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell, published by Viking Penguin
All ages
Source: Library
Sample quote: "At night Goyangi curled up on Soo Min's bed. When she was frightened by a siren in the street, she stroked Goyangi's soft fur. When Soo Min missed her Korean friends, Goyangi licked her hand with his towelly tongue."
Highly recommended

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chapter Book Review - The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine

Historical fiction is somewhat of a mixed bag. Successful historicals allow you to inhabit an alternate reality, just as you would in a fantasy novel, so that the reader comes away with knowledge that you would get if you had lived it. Less inviting are novels that are little more than recitations of fact, or those who overlay modern values and feelings into historical settings. Much better are books where it's apparent that a novelist has done his or her homework, and the details of daily life are woven seamlessly into the narrative.

In The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, author Kristin Levine builds on the life of her grandfather to create a compelling and engrossing novel for middle graders. It's 1917 and life in Moundville, Alabama has a predictable rhythm for twelve-year-old Dit Sims. When a new family moves into town, Dit's hoping for a boy his own age, and he's too busy being mad that the postmaster has a daughter to care about the fact that the Walkers are Black. Emma seems just like nobody Dit could ever possibly be friends with, and he's only nice to her because his mama says he has to be. Spending time with Emma starts Dit thinking, though, and he realizes that not everything in Moundville is exactly the same for everyone. Before long Dit and Emma are pulled into events that are way beyond their control, where life and death literally hang in the balance.

What Levine does in this book is very subtle, slowly revealing the actual themes of her novel to the reader at the same pace that the conflicts arise for Dit. She introduces Moundville as a town much like any other. It is only once the characters begin to examine their own town in closer detail that the reader begins to see the prejudice and racism that bubble just beneath the surface. Dit has grown up here, he knows the people as well as he knows the heft of his slingshot or just how to catch the fattest perch. But seeing things through Emma's eyes, Dit is troubled by the inequality that exists there for people of color like Doc Haley and his son Elbert. Like Dit, readers may begin to look around and wonder what life is really like for people who might be on the outside of society, whether that is due to skin color, religion, income, ability or other factors.

The other thing that impresses me about Levine's debut is the way she deftly threads historical detail into the plot. Kids aren't immediately hit with the idea that this is a historical -- though you know it, by virtue of elements like the excitement of an arriving train, or Dit's mama boiling wash in the front yard -- you're never hammered over the head by the foreignness of these elements. This is the type of book that works well for kids who think they don't like history. Because Levine's story is so character-driven and emotionally charged, readers are pulled along with the plot without stopping to think about time and place.

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had raises thought-provoking questions about acceptance and equality, about those who are part of the inner circle and those who are forever kept on the outside. This is a finely nuanced novel that raises the level of tension almost imperceptibly; I blazed through this compelling novel in one sitting, as captivated by the story as I was by the characters who set events in motion. Can't wait to see what Levine writes next!

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons
Ages 9-13
Source: Library
Sample quote: "Didn't see much of Emma for a while after that. She'd been okay on the fishing trip, and maybe we'd even had a little fun, but I still didn't want to be her friend. What'd we have in common? I loved the outdoors; she liked to sit on the porch all day. But my mama had a rule -- we didn't have to like anyone, but we had to be nice to everyone. That's exactly the kind of rule grown-ups make up, ain't it?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Picture Book Review - Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney

"I am Black / I am Unique!"

The subtitle of Sandra and Myles Pinkney's Shades of Black is "A Celebration of Our Children", and indeed it is! From the very first page, readers will catch the infectious spirit that runs through this vibrant book. Sandra Pinkney's text has a poetic feel to it, as she demonstrates the range of skin colors that encompasses shades of "brassy yellow" to "midnight blue", and lots more. I love that she draws comparisons between colors and food items, like gingery brown cookies or creamy white ice cream. What a great way to make kids sit up and take notice! The next sections show hair textures and lengths (Sprout likes to point out the "soft puffs in a cotton ball" that are like his own hair), as well as eye colors. Again Sandra Pinkney uses familiar items as points of comparison, so kids will readily see that all kinds of hair and eyes exist -- and "all of my hair is good!".

And no review of this title would be complete without commenting on Myles Pinkney's photos. As central as the text is to this book, the photos are what brings the words to vivid life. Gorgeous boys and girls of all ages display a variety of hair styles, eye colors and skin tones, all of which are emphasized by the text that accompanies them. We love the eye color section, where the kiddos all hold up rocks that match the hues of their own eyes (and we learned some rock names -- bonus!). I love the sly way one girl peeks at the camera out of the corner of her eye, and the playfulness of another flinging around piles of popcorn. Joyful, playful, ebullient!

If you're looking for a way to affirm and uplift your African American child, or to open a discussion about diversity, look no further. Pair with Shades of People or Black is Brown is Tan.

Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney, published by Scholastic
All ages
Source: Library
Sample quote: "My hair is the straight edge in a blade of grass / and the twisted corkscrew in a rope / My hair is short and my hair is long / All of my hair is good"
Highly recommended

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Link Love - William Joyce, Mock Newberys and Ian Falconer's New Yorker

Another week gone by and more links to be had. Start clicking!

~ First up, William Joyce's new picture book The Man in the Moon released this week. I haven't read it yet but took a minute to flip through, and as expected the art is amazing. Seriously, this is a feast for the eyes and is the kind of thing curious kids (and adults) will pore over. For more info about Joyce and the Guardians of Childhood, check out this issue of Shelf Awareness's Maximum Shelf.

~ Celebrate Roald Dahl this month! It's hard to imagine a world without Roald Dahl's characters -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and of course James and the Giant Peach. (or my personal fave, the underappreciated Danny the Champion of the World). You can honor Dahl's creations by sending a virtual peach -- or, see Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake virtually live on September 28. Scrumptious!

~ Last week I posted about ways you can help hurricane-damaged libraries. Check out Kate Messner's blog for an update -- and thanks to all who are participating.

~ If there's one thing I'm passionate about, it's reading aloud to Sprout. Seriously, it's a rare night that we miss it, and I'm determined to keep that up as long as possible. I firmly believe that reading aloud is the kind of project that's more marathon than sprint, and Read Aloud Dad has a little something to say about that this week too.

~ Along the same lines, a writer reflects on her time working with struggling readers as a parent volunteer. Her conclusions, and the reality of what she experienced, may be somewhat surprising. From School Library Journal.

~ On to fun stuff: It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Book blogs abound, in all subject categories and possible permutations. Events like this give us a chance to step back and examine what's happening on other blogs and what trends other bloggers are embracing. Plus, you can find some new favorite reads -- win win! Check out the site and vote for your faves in various categories.

~ Speaking of voting, it's also just about time for the Mock Newberys to start up. Got any personal picks or secret hopes for serious contenders? I'm always fascinated to see not only who's nominated but what great reads don't make the cut -- and how close the Mock Newberys come to the real thing. Bookmark Heavy Medal now.

~ I really, truly love Ian Falconer. Olivia is the kind of book that works on several levels, both for kids and for adults. Best of all, the illustrations give a cheeky nod to old masters and are a great way to introduce kids to some spectacular artwork (although I find the TV adaptation books just unfortunate). Fuse #8 takes a look at Falconer's New Yorker covers, and as expected there's more here than meets the eye. I especially love the ESOL -- heh heh.

~ And finally, I'd be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the anniversary that's on all our minds today. Ten years ago the world changed for America. And we will never be the same again. For Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers, 9/11 sparked a desire to examine what patriotism meant to them. The result, We Are America, is simply breathtaking, inspiring, and unifying.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chapter Book Review - As Simple As It Seems by Sarah Weeks

One reason I think I'm drawn especially to middle grade novels is that the characters are generally right in the throes of the struggle for identity. Novels for teens address similar issues, but the audience is closer to adulthood. In the middle grade years, we're all caught in that trap of beginning to leave childhood behind and grow up. This can make for a complex muddle of emotions and conflicts, when what we want and what we think we should do are often at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Such is the case for the heroine of  Sarah Weeks' novel As Simple As It Seems, Verbena Colter, twelve years old and dealing with a whole lot of turmoil. Verbena has grown up thinking she knew her life story, only to find out that her reality isn't what she knew at all. Suddenly a huge family secret is revealed, leaving Verbena to piece together meaning and a  new self-identity. Understandably this is a lot for Verbena, and so when she has the chance to be someone else with her new friend Pooch, she grabs it. But can she really be the friend Pooch needs if she can't tell him who she is? And who is that exactly?

I don't want to let out a huge spoiler for this novel, so I won't reveal Verbena's secret. But let's just say it's the kind of thing that would throw anyone for a loop, much less a girl who's already at a crossroads in her life just due to her age and development. Add to this Verbena's struggles with her own delays and her best friend Annie's sudden interest in makeup and boys, and you can see why Verbena might want to be someone else. At times it seemed as if Weeks had really piled a lot on Verbena, but when you think about it, isn't that the way life goes? It does for me, at least. And what's admirable is that Verbena handles it like a real kid would -- not always gracefully, not always wisely, and sometimes by lashing out at the people who love her most.

Verbena is the kind of character kids will relate to and empathize with. Even those who haven't faced the same challenges Verbena copes with can understand her, a girl who just wants life to go back the way it used to be. This is a solidly written, believable novel by an author who clearly relates to her audience.

As Simple As It Seems by Sarah Weeks, published by HarperCollins
Ages 9-12
Source: Library
Sample quote: "I could have told those boys to knock it off, or at least given them a dirty look -- especially Chris, whose guts I already hated for another reason. But instead of defending my mother, I closed my eyes and wished with all my might that I could be somebody else -- anybody besides me."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Library Find -- Roadwork by Sally Sutton

On our weekly trips to the library, we are constantly on the lookout for books about trains, cars, trucks and all things transportation-related. Sprout is a HUGE fan of big rigs and thus any book which offers photos or drawings of heavy equipment is a guaranteed checkout for us. Since we have to read these books right away, the minute we find them, it often results in me reading aloud to a group of several toddler boys in the library picture book section. Pretty awesome!

A few weeks ago I stumbled across Roadwork by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock. This was an instant hit with Sprout. The rhythmic, rhyming text is fun to read and yet substantive, so the reader really learns something about building a road. The entire construction process is spelled out step by step, with each page illustrating another phase in road-building. Best of all, each page features sound effects, which of course any toddler is going to love yelling out loud -- "Bump! Whump! Whop!". What could be better?

I suspect the success for us is in large part due to the illustrations, which are realistic, detailed, and vividly colored. Sprout pores over each spread, pointing out small things he notices, like the hook on the crane truck, or the liftgate on the dumptruck. Apparently this was Brian Lovelock's first children's book, and the jacket copy mentions that he tried very hard to capture all the points of the road equipment as best he could. Lovelock did an amazing job setting the main characters, the diggers and loaders and dump trucks, against backgrounds that emphasize the vastness of the project. I also love the way he seamlessly integrates diversity among the workers, so much so that I didn't at first notice that there are people of all colors and both genders included. Kudos!

If your little one is mesmerized when you drive past a construction zone, Roadwork is guaranteed to be a storytime favorite. Don't miss it!

Roadwork by Sally Sutton, published by Candlewick Press
Ages 2-5
Source: Library
Sample quote: "Roll the tar. Roll the tar. / Make it firm and flat. / Squash it down and press it out. / Squelch! Spluck! Splat!"

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Link Love - Disaster Relief, September Releases and A New Spidey!

Sprout's napping, hubs is out and about, and I'm veering off course from my previously scheduled studying time to post the weekly link roundup. There's time enough for reading journal articles later, right??

~ Wow, what a couple of weeks it's been for natural disasters. My heart goes out to all those affected, particularly those who are struggling to clean up and recoup their losses after earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. Galleycat has this look at one library's post-earthquake reshelving project. Kudos to them for bravely wading right in. Many bookstores and libraries were hard hit by Hurricane Irene -- author Kate Messner has a rundown on her blog and includes ways you can help. The economic downturn was already taking a bite out of the budget for some of these small libraries, so they really need help in patching everything back together.

~ Award season begins now! Teen readers are invite to vote for YALSA's Teen Top 10. Click the link for details and remember that the vote is for teens only, so if you're somewhat -- ahem -- above the prime demographic, round up a young one to vote for you. :)

~ And calling all book bloggers: judges for the next round of the CYBILs are now being sought. I so, so, SO much want to participate in this, but sadly I fear that my currently jam-packed schedule doesn't afford me the extra time. But it's a great gig, so if you are a regular contributor to a book blog, get your app in now!

~ Try as I might to deny it (because of that whole school's-back-in-session thing), the calendar has turned over to September. One good thing about it, though, is the monthly rundown of new releases featuring characters with diversity or multicultural themes. The HappyNappy Bookseller brings us this great list, while over at Diversity in YA they have a roundup of middle grade and YA titles. And my TBR list grows ever longer. . .

~ Speaking of TBR lists, Leila at The Bookshelves of Doom blog put out a call for read-alouds for a "snarky-smart precocious almost-12-year-old" girl. You could say that she got a few recommendations. Such great stuff!

~ On my TBR list, still, is The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh, the first in a trilogy about which I have heard wonderful, wonderful things. And after this interview with Walsh over at The History Girls blog, I am longing even more to read it -- which I will do, hopefully, before semester break. Stay tuned.

~ Ditto for Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Which longing is only made worse when I stumble across things like the book trailer and website. Sigh.

~ To continue in the school-themed vein (can you tell where my head is lately?), I'm taking Collection Development this semester. I cannot wait to bring up things like this impossibly cool addition to one library, now available for checkout. Gee, I wonder how you weed this collection??

~ Yay! Hooray! Woohoooo! A major superhero comic embraces diversity in a big, BIG way. And that's why we love us some Spiderman. (Thanks to my darling husband, comic geek extraordinaire, for the link.)

~ And finally, happy 50th anniversary to The Snowy Day! To say that Ezra Jack Keats' books were groundbreaking is a major understatement, and they remain fresh and appealing even 50 years later. Sprout loves the adventures of Peter and his friends, particularly Peter's Chair, The Snowy Day, and of course Whistle for Willie. If you're in or near NYC, check out the Jewish Museum's exhibit of Keats' artwork that opens on September 9. You can whistle all the way there, and whistle all the way home.