Monday, February 29, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Mother Bruce

picture book Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins book coverMother Bruce
by Ryan T. Higgins
Disney-Hyperion (Nov. 24, 2015)
Picture Book

What It's About:

Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he’s their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can’t seem to rid himself of his new companions. What’s a bear to do?

Why You'll Love It:
  • Ryan’s illustrations demonstrate a great range of movement and emotion, giving each page depth, with humorous details mixed in throughout.
  • Curmudgeonly Bruce and his devoted goslings will win readers over, especially as Bruce grows to love the geese against his better judgment.  
  • This book is laugh-out-loud funny, and its clever jokes will entertain adults and children alike. 
  • Bonus for librarians: Ryan has visited nearly 100 elementary schools in the past year to promote his work. His genuine interest in engaging children in his books really shines through.
Who Should Read It:

Great for  PreK-1st grade.

interior picture book spread Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins

What Else You Should Read:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What they're (really) reading: February 2016

photo by Toby Neal

By keeping a pulse on what my kiddos are checking out and keeping a close eye on which books are circulating heavily, I feel that I can spend the small budget I have more wisely by choosing books I know will have a greater likelihood of circulating widely.

Each month I'll feature a few fiction and a few nonfiction books that are on the "heavy rotation" list at our elementary library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're simply what the kids want.

This Month's Selections:

The Incredible Life of Balto
by Meghan McCarthy
Picture book biography

Illustrations and text describe the life of Balto, the real-life, legendary sled dog that braved a deadly blizzard to bring a lifesaving serum to people in Alaska in 1925, focusing on the dog's life after his celebrity-status waned. 

Kali's Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue
by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Follow the rescue of orphaned polar bear Kali (pronounced Cully) from the Inupiat village of Kali (Point Lay in English) to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage to his new home at the Buffalo Zoo in New York with Luna, a female polar bear. This photographic journey beautifully captures the remarkable development of the cub, who initially drinks from a baby bottle, sucks his paw for comfort, and sleeps with a "blankie" as he rapidly grows into the largest land carnivore on earth.

Splat the Cat
by Rob Scotton
Picture book

It's Splat's first day of school and he's worried. What if he doesn't make any new friends? Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox. The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons. But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat's worried again.

Pete the Cat: A Pet for Pete
by James Dean
Picture book

When Pete the Cat gets a goldfish, he decides to paint a picture of his new pet. But what will Pete do when everyone wants one of his paintings?

A Snicker of Magic
by Natalie Lloyd
Fantasy chapter book

The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic--but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.


Tales from a not-so-dorky drama queen
by Rachel Renee Russell
Realistic fiction chapter book

A certain member of the CCP girls Dork fans know all about has gotten her hands on Nikki's diary and has decided to share some thoughts of her own…Find out what happens when Nikki's worst nightmare becomes a reality.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What I'm Reading: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

under the wide and starry sky by nancy horan book cover historical fictionUnder the Wide and Starry Sky
by Nancy Horan
Ballantine (Jan. 14, 2014)
Historical Fiction

What It's About:

Nancy Horan chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Once again Horan has focused on a hugely famous man whose dramatic personal story is almost unknown. The novel portrays Louis and Fanny’s tumultuous life together, through difficult years of thwarted love and illness, intense happiness and worldly success.
  • The evocative settings include Paris and rural France, London, Edinburgh, Switzerland, the Adirondacks, Monterey, San Francisco, Sydney, and ships and islands in the South Pacific.
  • Like Loving Frank’s Mamah, Fanny was a pioneer of her time. Her actions—and their consequences—will spark lively book club discussion. Book groups will also love to discuss. 
What Else You Should Read:

Monday, February 22, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Glow

Glow by W. H. Beck book cover nonfictionGlow: Animals With Their Own Nightlights
by W. H. Beck
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Dec. 15, 2015)
Informational Picture Book


Why be afraid of the dark when there is so much to see? Whether it's used to hunt, hide, find a friend, or escape an enemy, bioluminescence--the ability to glow--is a unique adaptation in nature. In this fun and fascinating nonfiction picture book, join world-renowned photographers and biologists on their close encounters with the curious creatures that make their own light.

Why You'll Love It:
  •  Set against black backdrops, the photographs are often hauntingly beautiful, and closing pages note the creatures' habitats, actual size, and binomial nomenclature.
  • The cover photograph of a bizarre, long-toothed fish with a personal flashlight quickly catches the eye -- this book is sure to capture-and hold-readers' attention.
  • This overview is an effective jumping-off point for younger readers; for those interested in learning more, extensive back matter provides more detailed information on the animals discussed, as well as a bibliography. 

Who Should Read It:

Great for 1st-4th grade -- introduce the concept of bioluminescence with one of these video clips.

What Else You Should Read:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What I'm Reading: A Fifty-Year Silence

Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot book coverA Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined Year in France
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Broadway Books (Jan. 19, 2016)

What it's about:

A memoir by a young woman who travels to France to uncover the truth about her grandparents' mysterious and irrevocable estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Richmond Mouillot conjures the charms of the French countryside and the intimacy of small-town life precisely and elegantly.
  • Amid the abundance of books from Holocaust survivors and the children of those affected by the war, few nonfiction accounts of the Holocaust and World War II have been written from the perspective of the grandchildren. A Fifty-Year Silence explores the afterlife of the past for young Jewish people today and provokes an important dialogue about the inheritance of historical memory.
  • As a debut author and a young woman navigating the conflicting imperatives to remember the past and embrace her future, Richmond Mouillot writes with a warmth, directness, and honesty that will endear her to many readers.  

What Else You Should Read:

Monday, February 15, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Miller book coverThe Quickest Kid in Clarksville
by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrations by Frank Morrison
Chronicle Books (Feb. 9, 2016)
Historical fiction picture book


Growing up in the segregated town of Clarksville, Tennessee, in the 1960s, Alta's family cannot afford to buy her new sneakers--but she still plans to attend the parade celebrating her hero Wilma Rudolph's three Olympic gold medals. 

Why You'll Love It:
  • As a native Tennessean, I was thrilled when I came across this local little gem in our state's history. Using Olympic runner Wilma Rudolph’s 1960 homecoming parade as a backdrop, the story is a lively look at the rivalry between two of Wilma’s young fans—narrator Alta and Charmaine. 
  • Frank Morrison’s vibrant illustrations are expressive and charming. Elongated limbs and exaggerated movements put an emphasis on the girls’ athleticism.  
  • An author’s note provides further information about Wilma Rudolph’s life and accomplishments, as well as segregation in the South. Reading about Wilma’s insistence that her homecoming parade be integrated is inspiring.

historical fiction picture book Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Who Should Read It:

Great for grades K-2...and here's a link to some great discussion questions.

What Else You Should Read:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: The Great Monkey Rescue

Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle book coverThe Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins
by Sandra Markle
Millbrook (Oct. 1, 2015)


Golden lion tamarins were once common in Brazilian forests. But years of deforestation caused their numbers to shrink. See how scientists and concerned citizens came together to rescue these remarkable monkeys from near extinction. 

Why You'll Love It:
  •  Markle clearly explains the work of several scientists and acknowledges the contributions of committed Brazilians and their government to save the species through reforestation.
  • Numerous photographs of the golden lion tamarins and the humans working to insure their survival introduce readers to the lives of these intriguing monkeys.
  • Readers gain insights into the research, hard work, and patience involved in conservation efforts while learning about a fascinating animal. 
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 3-6...and here's an activity from the publisher!

Great Monkey Rescue photography Sandra Markle nonfiction science

What Else You Should Read:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Aaron and Alexander

Aaron and Alexander by Don Brown book coverAaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History
by Don Brown
Roaring Brook (Oct. 13, 2015)
Informational picture book


The story of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, whose politics put these Founding Founders in constant conflict which led to the most famous duel in American history.

Why You'll Love It:
  •  This picture-book dual biography does a thorough job of tracing the lives of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton and accentuating the many parallel aspects of their upbringings, as well as
    conveying the nuances and personalities of major players.
  •  The strong compare/contrast pattern introduces youngsters to founding fathers Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
  • There is almost nothing on this piece of history for this age group, making it a very useful as well as entertaining writing on this time in history.

Who Should Read It:

Great for  grades 3-5...and here's some mentor text possibilities with the book.

What Else You Should Read:
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