February is Library Lovers Month!

January 31, 2015

Miss-MooreIt’s hard to believe, but once upon a time, American children were not allowed to check books out of the  library.  We highly recommend reading about who “thought otherwise” and created the first children’s room in the New York Public Library.  It’s a wonderful book to honor  February’s special designation as Library Lovers month.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise:  How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debbie Atwell

Anne Carroll Moore grew up loving books, sharing stories–and did not appreciate that she and other children did not have book borrowing privileges in libraries.  As a young woman, she traveled from Maine to New York City to become a librarian (one of the few jobs open to unmarried women) and worked tirelessly to ensure that all children felt welcome at library programs and were able to check out books.  Not only that, she brought in poets, musicians, and artists, and set up storytime and readaloud sessions, changing the world of libraries–and their role in children’s lives.

It’s hard to imagine that world of the early 1900’s, where children were not even allowed to touch the books in libraries.  What a change one woman was able to make, not just in New York, but nation-wide, and ultimately, internationally.

Start with this book, and extend your appreciation throughout the month–and beyond.

This isn’t the first time we’ve celebrated our appreciation of libraries.  Check out Library Love for a a winning list of picture books devoted to libraries.  Still want more?  Here you go:  More Library Love

Let us know your favorite finds, too!


January 24, 2015

~posted by Ruth

MustacheThe Mustache that Cured World Hunger by Kyle B. Hart,

Just a few weeks after we posted the list of picture books that celebrate mustaches, this delightful book fell in my lap, courtesy of my colleague at Lewis & Clark College, Kimberly Campbell.  One of her students, preparing to become a high school teacher, has a close friend who has written the tale, and she thought I might appreciate its humor, whimsical illustrations, and catchy rhymes.  I was immediately hooked, and bought a copy to share with Molly and Jacob over the holidays.

The good news is, they absolutely loved it.  For Jacob especially, it became the go-to book to read and share and keep in his bedside stack for late-night rereading.  The whackiness of the premise immediately drew the kids in–the idea that “Steve’s mustache” has his own power and personality, leaving his home on Steve’s face each night to fly around the world delivering food to the hungry people of the world.  This is a mustache with a social conscience!  Like his creator, Kyle, who donates 50% of the proceeds of the book to the Oregon Food Bank.

The pictures are fresh and funny, and I can attest to their appeal to 7-year-olds, and the many adults who shared the book over the holidays. When I told Jacob and Molly that Ben, a student at my school, is good friends with Kyle, their eyes got big.  “You mean you know the author?”

“No,” I admitted, “but I ‘ll bet Kimberly would ask him to autograph your book.”

I hope to get them their freshly inscribed copy in time for their birthday.

Thanks, Ben–and Kyle!

WINGS AND CO: The Latest from Great Britain!

January 17, 2015

Wings-and-Co-4Straight from Great Britain, Wings & Co Book 4 arrived in time for our New Year’s celebration.  The series seems to get better and better–even though it started off really strong!  The Matchbox Mysteries by Sally Gardner continues to follow the adventures of Emily Vole and her friends as they solve mysteries for their very own fairy detective agency.  Back in Podgy Bottom, the friends (including a large talking cat named Fidget: Buster, a grumpy boy fairy who has been eleven years old for over 100 years; a set of walking keys; and a vain magic lamp) take on the mystery of the thief who is shrinking cars to matchbox size and pocketing them.  We also celebrate the return of the most horrible of villains, Harpella the witch.  When we last met her, she had been changed into a large purple rabbit.  Here, she is reunited with her evil alchemist magic broomstick, wreaking havoc on Podgy Bottom and beyond!

MatchboxLike the other books in this series, readers delight in the special humor, magic, and fun of the stories, and the delightful British wit and wordplay. Fidget is still heard exclaiming “Spot on the fishcake!” And showing his affection for Emily Vole by calling her, “my little ducks.”   A true delight as a family readaloud.

New to the series?  Learn more from our review of the earlier books in the series: Wings and Co:  Perfect Readaloud for Young Readers.


We not only enjoyed reading the book. but creating our own illustrations:





National Hat Day, January 15th

January 10, 2015

~posted by Ruth

HatJanuary is a perfect month to celebrate hats.  Here in Portland, it’s chilly enough to choose a warm one, like the special ones Aunt Lisa crocheted for Molly and Jacob that they have been wearing daily during their visit.  But if you live in a warmer climate, you can still enjoy National Hat Day this January 15th.  Try a sunhat, a bonnet, a beret–or a Lego hat!  The only limit is your imagination.  If you’re looking for books to spark ideas (and who isn’t!?), here are a few brand new picture books honoring the sweet world of hats.

Mystery-HatThe Mystery Hat by Rune Brandt Bennicke, illustrated by Jakob Hjort Jensen

Whose red hat is that sitting in the middle of the puddle?  Crow Pig, and Beaver ponder this question as they come across this fine hat as they are out for a stroll through the woods. Together they imagine who might have lost the hat, and in what circumstances.  Maybe Bear lost it when he fell into a giant hole. What if a crazed snowman snatched up Turtle to make into a savory soup?  This funny and charming story is illustrated fantastically.  If this author/illustrator Danish duo is new to you, you’ll be glad to make their acquaintance.


HoorayHooray for Hat by Brian Won

Who better to celebrate a fabulous hat with than your friends?  Especially if you and your pals are having a rather grumpy day, a hat is a terrific solution to cheer everyone up!  Elephant starts the parade when he finds a surprise hat on his front door–and marches off to brighten all his friends’ day.  Elephant has a day that begins with “Go away!  I’m Grumpy!” and ends with “Hooray for Hats!”  A real mood brightener that shows how contagious happiness can be.


BrimsebyBrimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

Friendship, creativity, and of course, hats. . .What better themes for National Hat Day?  Brimsby is a cheerful hatmaker, that is until his best friend seeks adventure at sea.  He finds new friends in the nest of  busy little birds, creating special hand-crafted hats for each individual nest.  Truly a charming book about the nature of  loss of friendship when a loved one moves away–and the pleasures of making new friends while remembering old ones.


A love of picture books that focus on hats is not new to us.  Check out some of our earlier posts!

This is Not My Hat  by Jon Klassen (and its partner book by the same author:  I Want My Hat Back )


Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D. B. Johnson

For Your Growing Alphabet Bookshelf: ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET

January 3, 2015

OnceOnce Upon an Alphabet:  Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers

Silly, wacky, and delightful, Jeffers’ latest masterpiece will invite readers to create their own short stories for each letter of the alphabet (or at least their favorites).  And what unique stories they are!  Hard to pick a favorite, but I’m fond of the Astronaut who is afraid of heights, or the decidedly scientific short story:  “Mary is made of matter….she got sucked through a microscope and became the size of a molecule.” I also appreciate the puzzled parsnip, and of course Victor the Vanquished.  All the stories are humorously illustrated with Jeffers special wit and wisdom.  We predict it’s destined to be a classic. . .and for the whole family.

We hope this has whet your appetite for other delicious alphabet books.  We have some terrific recommendations for you:

Alphabet Books for Nursery and Pre-school


More Young People Who Make a Difference: Malala and Iqbal

December 27, 2014

It’s important for kids to see other children and teens their own ages who are making a difference in the world.  Two books this year leapt out at us as wonderful additions to your social justice children’s literature bookshelves:

IqbalMalala, a Brave Girl  From Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy From Pakistan:  Two Stories of Bravery

by Jeanette Winter

Jeanette Winter is a favorite of ours for her fantastic picture books like The Librarian of Basra and Nasreen’s Secret School.   This time, she shares two separate true stories of courage in the lives of young activists from Pakistan:  Malala and Iqbal.  In her usual style of spare but compelling text, Winter shares two devastating stories, but in an age appropriate manner.  Malala Yousafzai is well-known as a contemporary hero and advocate for girls’ rights to an education.  When she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, the world came to know of her bravery and strong dedication.  Iqbal Masih is less well-known, and his story is even more heart-breaking.  Twenty years ago, his story rocked the world when he was shot and killed at the age of twelve for his anti-child labor work.  This is an inspiring book of two important champions of human rights.


MalalI Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) 

by Malala Youisafzai and Patricia McCormick

Older teen readers can choose to read the adult version of Malala’s inspiring story, but for early adolescents (and even some early readers as a readaloud), we recommend this thoughtful Young Readers Edition. Malala’s voice comes through of her life and convictions, and the photographs are the perfect complement. We learn not only of her struggles, but her early life as a child in Pakistan.  Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Highly recommended!

And for more recommendations:

In the past, we have done a flight on People Who Make A Difference  providing recommendations for the whole family.  And we followed up with a special focus on Children Who Changed the World .

ENZO RACES IN THE RAIN! by Garth Stein: A Review

December 20, 2014

enzoEnzo Races in the Rain! by Garth Stein, illustrated by R.W.Alley

Enzo is back, and this time in a picture book for kids.  We first met this charming dog in the compelling adult novel The Art of Racing in the Rain We couldn’t help but include it in our flight on Dogs.  Now Enzo as a pup returns to delight a younger audience with his exuberance, intelligence, fun-loving nature, and loyalty to his human family, Zoe and Denny.  It’s almost a pre-quel to the adventures and life of Enzo the adult dog that we meet in the novel, and a fitting way to share this truly lovable character.  A dear friend of mine, Jackie, introduced me to this author, so I was delighted to share the picture book with her so she in turn could share it with her second graders.  She reports they loved it on all levels, included the rich illustrations.  Not just for kids, though.  A treat for dog-lovers of all ages.


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