Saturday, October 15, 2016

Summer Round-Up

I had every intention of keeping up with my monthly round-ups, but, oh, what a busy year it has been! Along with the annual summer reading madness, I've also been collaborating with fellow 2016 Geisel Award Committee members Amanda Foulk and Misti Tidman to create the new mock Geisel Award blog, Guessing Geisel. Launched in June, this blog was created as a place to celebrate and discuss beginning readers and the Geisel Award. We have a wonderful roster of guest bloggers who have so generously offered their time and expertise. I hope you'll check it out! Now onto the round-up!

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City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier 
Little Brown and Company, 2016
 A curious young girl follows a pigeon’s flight through the bustling city to the bird’s circle of a nest high on a rooftop as it falls asleep to the sounds of the city’s “sweet lullaby.” Along the way she discovers that “the city is bursting with SHAPES.” Starting with simple shapes -- squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles -- then progressing to more complex ones -- ovals, diamonds, and stars. Murray’s rhyming text pairs beautifully with Collier’s watercolor and collage on watercolor paper illustrations depicting a vibrantly diverse urban setting. Check out my guest post for Book to Boogie on the Library as Incubator website for more on this fabulous book.

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Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brogol 
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
An old woman lives in a small house with lots and lots of children. All she wants to do is knit a stack of sweaters before winter arrives, but she can’t seem to get any peace. “Leave me alone!”, she cries as she heads out into the deep, dark forest. Unfortunately, there are just as many interruptions (bears) there as at home. So she climbs a snowy mountain (goats) all the way to the moon (aliens) until she can’t stand it anymore and leaves through a wormhole into a void. This modern folktale has a repetitive structure that allows the humor to build to a satisfying conclusion. The illustrations are cartoonish, outlined in swooping black lines and colored with soft washes.

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Night Guard by Synne Lea, illustrated by Stian Hole
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2016
Translated from Norwegian by John Irons, this is a beautiful collection of poems and surreal illustrations. Themes of family and dreams tie together the imaginative, emotional poems. The illustrations (perhaps mixed media? Digital?) comment and embellish the text. Repeated images--a bed with a red blanket, birds, a white house--encourage readers to connect the poems and images. The short free verse poems are quietly humorous or touching, prompting the reader to ponder a while. This is an excellent recommendation for upper elementary or middle school students.

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When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad 
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
 Following the seasons from spring to winter, this gentle book of poetry invites readers to take a closer look at our ever changing world. Titled by month and date, the short poems glory in the first blossoming crocus, days "hot and thick like honey", and "muddy mud" when the snow begins to melt. Morstead's delicate gouache and pencil crayon illustrations feature diverse children and match the quiet, quirky humor of the poems.

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You are NOT a Cat! by Sharon G. Flake, illustrated by Anna Raff 
Boyds Mills Press, 2016
An indignant cat becomes increasingly worked up by a duck who insists it is a cat. Although the duck lacks a long, straight tail, sharp claws, and a taste for mice, this doesn’t stop it from declaring it is cat with great confidence. After all, yesterday it was a squirrel, last week a rooster, and tomorrow, perhaps a cow! The all dialogue text is presented in easy to read speech bubbles that pop out against the clean backgrounds of the humorous illustrations. Created with sumi ink washes, pen and pencil drawings, assembled and colored digitally, the uncluttered illustrations use soft colors and hilarious facial expressions. Great for reading aloud for a preschool storytime or for beginning readers looking for an Elephant and Piggie readalike.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Program-a-Rama at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando

Last weekend at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando two Program-a-Rama sessions were held. Formerly known as Program-a-Looza (but changed because we do so love a good rhyme), Program-a-Rama was created as a way for children's librarians in public and school libraries to share and take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources. 

After introductions, each person shared a favorite cheap, easy, and successful program. There were so many wonderfully easy, yet ingenious ideas. Big ideas, like holding a student mock award or throwing a Hogwarts open house, and smaller, yet fantastic ideas, like making light up animals with LEDs and pipe cleaners or having a paper airplane flight school. 

Next, we did some group brainstorming on programming topics using pens and sticky notes. Totally participant directed, topics included preschool maker projects, International Games Day, and obstacle course ideas. 

Finally, we spent a few minutes discussing programming challenges and possible solutions, such as what to do when you have more kids than computers at a Minecraft event. 

Sessions were lead by Danielle Jones (Multnomah County Library) and myself (Denver Public Library) and we look forward to hosting another session at ALA Midwinter 2017 in Atlanta. We hope you can join us! 

Wondering what we talked about? Here are the notes from both sessions:

Want more programming ideas? Take a look at previous Program-a-Rama session notes, as well as a the notes from a recent passive programming brainstorming session held at the Colorado Association for Libraries 2015 Conference.

Monday, May 30, 2016

April Round-Up

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As Time Went By by José Sanabria
NorthSouth Books, 2016
Told in three parts, the stories of an old ship and a displaced family are woven together in this quiet story of change. The ship once gloriously sailed in the sun with important people aboard, but as time went by it was abandoned. The family once lived in a grand house, but as time went by they, along with everyone in their village, lost everything. Fortunately, the villagers find the ship and make it useful again. Originally published in Switzerland, the painterly illustrations using muted greys, blues, reds, and yellows create an atmosphere of a bygone era. The fable-like text uses the repeated title refrain to tie the elements together.

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Harcourt, 2007
This collection includes one short poem for each planet (plus a few other astronomical objects). I used this book during an outreach visit with 3rd and 4th graders with great success. I asked the kids to shout out a planet and then read that poem. Thanks to the handy-dandy table of contents, it was easy to jump around from poem to poem. The illustrations, created with gouache, collage, and rubber stamps on primed brown paper bags, are full of astronomical and mythical details. The book finishes with “A Galactic Glossary” featuring a short paragraph about the planets, stars, our moon, comets, etc.

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I Love Cake by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Angie Roselaar
Katherine Tegen Books, 2016
It’s Rabbit’s birthday and her friends Porcupine and Moose are excited to throw a party. They jump on the trampoline and play pin the tail on the chipmunk, but when it’s time for cake, it’s nowhere to be found! Moose tries to lie, but eventually he fesses up to his crime. Can he ever make it up to his friends? Told in a combination of narrative and dialogue, this humorous book stars a bumbling, but lovable moose. The text is large and bold, making it easy to use this book for a preschool or early elementary storytime. The brightly colored brush, India ink, and Photoshop illustrations add to the comic timing of the story.

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Puddle by Hyewon Yum
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016
It’s raining and a young boy is absolutely bored. His mother invites him to draw with her, but he’s too stubborn. So mom entices the boy into the game by drawing a blue umbrella and then the boy holding it. Soon the two are drawing together, creating a rainy day adventure on paper. Use this book in a preschool storytime to model and encourage the ECRR 2 practices of talking and writing. The all dialogue text, red for mom, black for the boy, conversationally pushes the simple story along. The drawn illustrations feature rosy-cheeked characters and thoughtful details throughout. Don’t miss the whimsical endpapers!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

March Round-Up

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Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim
Candlewick, 2013

Featuring sixteen different vehicles from cement mixers to snowplows, excavators to fire trucks, this collection of poetry is action-packed. The short poems have great rhythm and, often, rhyme. The vocabulary is impressive, yet always clearly explained in context. The acrylic and charcoal illustrations are cartoonish and feature three diverse kids and their devoted dog exploring each vehicle. I recently read several poems from this book in my preschool storytime with great success.

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Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmers’ Market by Irene Latham, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
WordSong, 2016

This collection of twenty-one poems celebrates the glorious sights, smells, and tastes of a farmers’ market. The short, lighthearted poems are arranged simply, yet attractively on the page pairing beautifully with the whimsical acrylic and collage illustrations showing a variety of animals extolling the virtues of their favorite fresh and delicious produce. Enjoy such bite-sized delicacies as a small rabbit contemplating the many flavors of lettuces, a pig and a skunk taking in the fuzzy sweetness of peaches, two mice having an okra duel, and a piratical hippo and giraffe discovering a treasure chest of farm-fresh eggs. Six recipes (to be completed with a grown-up helper) round out this delectable poetry collection. These are lovely poems to share with toddlers and preschoolers.

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McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by John Hendrix
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

In this completely ridiculous, laugh-out-loud story hardworking McToad shares his love of Thursdays. Every other day of the week he mows Big Island, but on Thursdays he mows Tiny Island. Using every form of transportation imaginable from a truck to a forklift, a baggage buggy to a crane, McToad takes his riding mower to the oh-so-teeny island. The illustrations, rendered with pen and ink with fluid acrylic washes, make great use of lines and shading to create perspective. The drily serious text builds up to the hilarious climax. Read this book with a preschool or elementary aged audience and talk about the many decorative fonts used throughout the story.

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Stop Snoring, Bernard! By Zachariah Ohora
Henry Holt and Company, 2011

Bernard the otter loves living at the zoo. The food is tasty and his friends are awesome. Unfortunately, the other otters aren’t so happy with Bernard at naptime. Bernard just can’t sleep without snoring, really, really loudly! One day Grumpy Giles has enough and Bernard sets off to find a new place to nap. Will Bernard ever find a place where his snoring won’t disturb someone? The thick black outlines and bright colors of the acrylic illustrations make Bernard and his zoo friends pop off the page. The narration is simple, yet propels the story forward with urgency. Read this to a preschool storytime crowd and have them shout the oft-repeated words, “Stop snoring, Bernard!”


Thursday, March 10, 2016

February Round-Up

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Ballerina Gets Ready by Allegra Kent, illustrated by Catherine Stock
Holiday House, 2016
Young dancers will love following Iris the ballerina from morning until night in this slice of life picture book. Throughout Iris’s jampacked day (costume fittings, rehearsals, barre, performance) each bit of text is preceded by a time stamp. The sketchy, loose pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are detailed and full of movement. The text is concise with small touches that provide insight into the culture of ballet.

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Find the Circle (also, Find the Line, Find the Square, and Find the Triangle) board book series by Britta Teckentrup
Sterling Children’s Books, 2015
Circle - 9781454917595
Line - 9781454917601
Square - 9781454917618
Triangle - 9781454917625
Originally published in Great Britain under slightly different names, these brightly colored board books visually reinforce shapes and lines for little ones. Each page includes three extremely short sentences. The final sentences is always a question prompting caregivers and young ones to explore the illustrations. Uncluttered layouts and easy to identify objects make it clear that these well-made board books were intentionally made for infants.  

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Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
You might think that a bear and five ducks would make an odd family, but in fact they fit perfectly together. The only trouble is, where can they live? An extensive search for a bear- and duck-friendly home is horribly disappointing. Does this mean Bear can’t live with the ducks? The soft watercolor and pencil illustrations provide a comforting background for this gentle story. With it’s clear beginning, middle, and end, this book is a perfect choice for a preschool storytime focusing on narrative skills. The follow up, Bear is Not Tired, just came out in January, 2016.

Choo! Choo!: Guess the Vehicle  and Toot! Toot!: Guess the Instrument(What’s that Noise? series) by Child’s Play, illustrated by Cocorette
Child’s Play, 2015
Toot Toot - 978-1846437496
Choo Choo - 978-1846437465
These simple concept board books feature bold shapes and colors and sturdy flaps that reveal the source of each sound. The brief text, printed in a large font, invites adult and baby readers to interact throughout. The bright illustrations with cheerful animals make this a great book for even the youngest infant. There are other titles in this series, but I feel that these two are the strongest.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking Back on 2015 and Ahead to 2016

The Giant Harry Potter Cardboard Maze.
Photo courtesy of Will Forrester.


2015 was an incredibly busy year. I got married, went from part-time, to full-time, designed and built a giant cardboard maze, and we even bought a house! I was also serving on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee and spent the last few months knee deep in notes and books prepping for intense book discussions at ALA Midwinter. It was a lot of hard work, but I am very proud of the winner and three honor books chosen our committee. 

I'll admit it, I didn't get as much blogging done as I would have liked. So instead of trying to catch up on my November and December round-ups, and because there are more great books published each year than I could ever hope to read, I give you a round-up of best/notable/fabulous book lists of 2015. 

ALSC's Notable Children's Book 2016 List
A great list of books for kids (0-14 years old). The list is divided into books for younger, middle, and older readers with nonfiction and fiction mixed together. 

Denver Public Library's 2015 Best & Brightest Book List - Every year a group of Denver Public Library librarians gets together to create our Best & Brightest Children's Book List. Divided into categories, this annotated list includes our favorite children's books for babies through middle schoolers published in 2015. It is our hope that there's something on this list for every child. We strive to make a list that reflects the wonderful diversity of the City of Denver. I have personally contributed titles to this list. 

Notable Books for a Global Society 2016 List
Each year The Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association chooses 25 books for preK through 12th grade that reflect and celebrate diversity. 

School Library Journal's Best of 2015
Categories include books for babies through teens, as well as apps, audiobooks, and DVDs. 

We Need Diverse Books End of the Year Booklists
Divided by age range and presented in eye-catching flowcharts, these lists provide a variety of excellent and diverse recommendations for young readers. 


As I look at my work-life-blog balance, I realize that I will have less time to blog in 2016. I still plan on posting a round-up at the end of each month, but the reviews will probably be much shorter. More keywords (to help me when I'm doing reader's advisory on the fly) and less hyperlinks. I hope you'll still continue to stop by and that you'll find this blog helpful. 

*A duplicate of this post can also be found on my other blog:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Program-a-Rama at ALA Midwinter 2016

Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr:
Last weekend at ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston the second Program-a-Rama session was held. Formerly known as Program-a-Looza (but changed to rhyme better), this grassroots session was created as a way for children's library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

After introductions, each person shared a favorite cheap, easy, and successful program. Next, we did some group brainstorming on programming topics using pens and sticky notes. Finally, we spent a few minutes discussing programming challenges and possible solutions.

This session was lead by Danielle Jones (Multnomah County Library) and myself (Denver Public Library) and we look forward to hosting another session at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando.

Wondering what we talked about? Check out the Program-a-Rama Notes.

Want more programming ideas? Take a look at my posts about last year's Program-a-Looza, as well as a the notes from a recent passive programming brainstorming session.