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May 2010 Archives

Pam

Thursday Three: Asian Picture Books

Posted by Pam on May 27, 2010 at 1:14 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Minji’s Salon
by Eun-hee Choung

Minji's SalonThis book comes to Kane/Miller publishing from South Korea, but it could just as easily be set in any of the bustling Korean neighborhoods in America. While her mother is getting her hair colored and styled, Minji follows suit with her own customer — a black dog — and in her own way. The child’s desire to do grown-up things is universal, and is captured well in this simply worded picture book. The illustrations are engaging, especially when capturing the expressions of Minji and her mom. Enjoyable, lovely book.

If Not for the Calico Cat,
by Mary Blount Christian, illustrated by Sebastià Serra

If Not for the Calico CatA ship’s crew believes that a calico cat will bring them good luck on their sea journey. They load the silks, rice, tea, fans, vases, jade... and of course, a calico cat from the pier. But they may have picked the wrong cat. This fluffy pet just wants to find a nice place to rest, even if it means inadvertently causing chaos. There was a moment toward the conclusion of the book when I felt that it was going kind of dark, but all was okay in the end. At least for the cat. An interesting book on sea journeys and kitties with a little old Japanese flair thrown in for good measure.

The Silk Princess,
by Charles Santore

The Silk PrincessThe Chinese legend of the discovery of silk is expanded in this picture book. A child sees a silkworm cocoon fall in hot tea and begin to unwind. She takes one end and walks away from her mother to see how far it stretches. She walks and walks and soon gets worn out and lies down. She continues her adventure, running away from a dragon and then meeting an old man who teaches her the way to use the silk. She takes the story — or dream — back to her mother and silk is introduced in China. The illustrations are beautiful and very detailed. There’s a lot of text, so a better story for older preschool or early school-age kids.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Books for Your World Explorer (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Board BooksBook Buying Early LiteracyPicture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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The great thing - and the frustrating thing - about infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is that they are into everything. They are discovering something new all the time, beginning to label the world around them, and even deciding what they like and don't like. [Dinosaurs - yes. Spinach - not so much!]

Last week we talked about bedtime stories for your home library. This week it's all about those waking hours! One suggestion: opt for the board book edition if there is one. This audience is notoriously tough on books!

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry. Susan Thomsen counts this and Freight Trains by Donald Crews among her son's favorites at this age. This is a timeless classic. With Car, kids can figure out what moves (and what doesn't), make the sounds of myriad transportation modes and animals, and feed that passion for things that move! Scarry did a great job of "hiding" other things in the illustrations that will keep young children glued to the page.

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. When Pam narrowed down her gift choices for 3-year-old niece, Jeremy was on the list. From Pam: "This title is one of my favorites of 2009, though it seems to have slipped under the radar in the book world. I didn't think the amazing message contained within was too subtle, but maybe it did escape many readers who looked at the surface and saw a simple, light story. It's a shame, because people missed one of the better combinations of art, story, and message that I've ever seen."

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. I admit, that while I love Mo Willems, Knuffle Bunny isn't a personal fave. Still, as Gina points out in her Show and Tale last November, Mo and the Bunny have LOTS of adoring fans. Here's what Karen told Gina: "My daughter loves Knuffle Bunny in all its forms (including the sequel). She adores the combination of photography and cartoons and has been able to recite the story since before she could read." What more could you ask for?

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. When we knew we were going to adopt, this was one of my first book purchases. I loved this story as a child. Even through the pages you can engage your senses, from the chill of Peter's hands to the crunch, crunch, crunch of the snow.

Picture books are a natural choice when it comes to piquing and satisfying a young child's curiosity. There are so many wonderful choices - what books do you recommend for a play-time library?

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.

Susan

Librarian or Mind Reader?

Posted by Susan on May 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Librarian Job DescriptionLibraries
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Last week, I began a series of posts about what children's librarians do all day. Very few people seem to know what the job entails, so I thought I'd shed some light on this wonderful and often misunderstood field. For the rest of the posts in this series, click here.

How are librarians like mind readers? Because we get asked questions all day long on every subject imaginable and are expected to come up with accurate answers. Here's some examples.... all are real questions I've gotten at the reference desk.

Wrinkle in Time original.jpgQuestion: What's the name of the blue book with people standing in circles on the cover? Answer: A Wrinkle in Time, first edition, cover designed by Ellen Raskin.

Question
: What's that book where a chicken takes a plane? Answer: Olvina Flies by Grace Lin.

Come on, challenge me, people.

Now, here's a great question from a few days ago. All the quotes from the patron are real. I couldn't make them up if I tried.

Elementary school patron: I want that poetry book with a hippo on the cover.

Librarian: Hmmm.... okay, nothing springs to mind. A search on poetry and hippos yields nothing. Neither does a look through the covers of all the books by Allan Katz and Jack Prelutsky (if any poets would use hippos on their covers, it would be them.)

Patron: I think the hippo might be holding a lemon.

Librarian: After a catalog search, Google Image search, and intensive questioning of my colleagues, I'm still drawing a blank. Is there any other possible piece of information you remember about the book?

Patron
: I think it had something to do with the number five.

The librarian does a catalog search for poetry books about the number five. The patron recognizes the picture of the book in the catalog.

Monster Goose.jpgAnd the mystery book is: Monster Goose by Judy Sierra. Here's the cover. You can't help but notice that there are no hippos, lemons, or the number five anywhere on the cover. The only reason it came up in the catalog at all is because it was described as a book of "twenty-five" poems. The fact that it was the right book was completely serendipitous. (And yes, it was the right book. I asked the patron about ten times to be sure.)

Children ask for books in different ways than adults do. One of the great parts of being a children's librarian is when you figure out what the patron is really asking for and find the right book.

Come on, Google. I dare you to find Monster Goose based on that description.

Pam

Thursday Three: Beginning Bookshelves

Posted by Pam on May 20, 2010 at 2:10 PM in Recommendations
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In March, I listed ideas for Thrifty Reading with ideas for finding books on a budget. Last week, Susan offered ideas on ways to build your child's library in an economical way with her post Have I Got a Deal for You! Then Monday, Terry took the idea towards what titles should be in that library with Bookworm Basics And now I'm coming back to the concept with three types of books to look for in filling the bookshelves.

1. Classics
Curious GeorgeThere are really two kinds of classics: the ones that you read as a child and the new classics that have come out in the intervening years. Your child's bookshelf should have some of both. Reading the books that you grew up on gives you a chance to share that connection with your child. Maybe these books don't honor the faster pace of today's child or use the latest research on teaching to the developing brain of a toddler. But they mean something to you, and that's important. Many also have a place as cultural reference that continues through generations. (Hello Man in the Yellow Hat.) Such books like Curious George; Madeline; Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, Bread and Jam for Frances, and The Cat in the Hat belong on every child's bookshelf. You may have some books from your own childhood that are special to you that you should also share. New Classics are ones that you'll see featured at any bookstore, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; The Hungry Caterpillar, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!; Clifford the Big Red Dog; Guess How Much I Love You; and Fancy Nancy. Here's a hint on finding the New Classics: they often have a line of related merchandise. I'm not condoning it, I'm just saying'.

2. Mulitcultural/Diverse
How Do You Wokka-Wokka?Reading is one of the first ways that we see the greater world around us, so take the opportunity to widen that exposure with books that are diverse and multicultural. In looking for books featuring children of color, I've become fond of the illustrator Randy Cecil who used a great cast of characters in Looking for a Moose and How Do You Wokka-Wokka? (written by Phyllis Root and Elizabeth Bluemie, respectively). Kadir Nelson brings his art to life in every book he illustrates, but young readers will especially enjoy Please, Puppy, Please. Grace Lin incorporates Asian children and themes in the many, picture books she has written and illustrated - like in Kite Flying and you'll find Hispanic themes in the works of Pat Mora and Tony Johnson, among many others.

You and Me TogetherExplore the world without leaving home in the wonderful picture books of Barbara Kerley, with photos from National Geographic - like You and Me Together. Start even younger with the board books like Global Babies or broaden the concept with If the World Were a Village. Think about different kinds of families with The Family Book by Todd Parr (speaking of children of color, you'll see all the colors of rainbow represented here - literally) or And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell which tells the story of two male penguins who raise an egg together.

3. Art
Metropolitan Museum seriesIf you're stuck on buying a book, look for the one with great art. I don't mean books with classic artwork in them - though I am fond of the Metropolitan Museum series - but instead books that have amazing illustrations. Step into the art of Steve Jenkins in books like Actual Size or the surreal world of David Wiesner in Flotsam or the perfect spareness of Peter Reynolds in Ish. Investigate the soft tone of Jon Muth or the lively colors of David Diaz. Compare the watercolors of E. B. Lewis to the scratchboard work of Beth Krommes. Find books that are illustrated with beauty, style, and creativity and you'll likely find yourself in possession of very, very good books.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Building a Bedtime Library (0 to 5)

Posted by Terry on May 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM in Book Buying Picture BooksRecommendationsSeries
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Last week, Susan Kusel offered a wonderful guide on budget-friendly way to build your child's library with library book sales. She even has some suggestions on when to shop (early) and what kinds of books to look for (hardcovers and series). If you haven't read it yet, check out Have I Got a Deal for You! You might also check out Pam's Thrifty Three ways to keep reading in tough economic times back in March.

I love Susan's post, bookmarked it, and even referenced it in a couple of places; but it left me with one question: If I'm starting a library for a child what titles should I try to find? Voila! A Bookworm Basics mini-series is born. Over the next few weeks, I'll have some recommendations with books for different ages.

Today we're talking bedtime stories. When I hear "read with your child," the first image that comes to mind is cuddling up close and sharing a picture book. These are the first books you're likely to own, and here are some of our favorites.

Night Lights by Susan Gal. Pam featured this in Thursday Three last November. Here is what Pam offered in a comment: "at my first look, Night Lights didn't grab me. But I realized that I was taking it too fast, and it's a book that needs you to slow down. It's there that I found its quiet value. I didn't even mention this, but I also like that it's about just a girl and her mom (and dog). Maybe it's a single mom or a dad in the military, but I liked seeing that represented."

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Jan Brett. With Jan Brett's beautiful illustrations of this story of an unlikely couple, what's not to love? The rhyme is a soothing counterpoint to the bright illustrations. As Susan Thomsen says this one is not about sleep, but it is a beloved book that she and her son have shared repeatedly at bedtime.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Debi Gliori. In her February 2010 Show and Tale, Gina shares colleague Tracy Wynne's story about how she came to love this book after her 5-year-old daughter started having bad dreams. "In my frantic search to ease her fears, I came across the most delightful book ... This wonderful read-aloud is sweet and reassuring. I love how it addresses the power of positive thinking; a skill that will serve children well, even at night."

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is hard to beat Mem Fox for wonderful stories. Mother animals beg their young one to go to sleep, and each mom has a different way of imploring their child to settle in for bed. For years this was our go-to book at nap time and bedtime. It is a particularly soothing story that offers a quiet "hush" with every turn and always got our busy toddler to stop what she was doing and hop into bed.

It's hard to beat the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with snuggling together to share a book. Including reading as part of your go-to-bed ritual is a wonderful tradition, an easy way to share a love of reading, and a great way to close out each day for you and your child. Do you have a family favorite? We'd love to hear about it!

To see the full list of favorites, and to keep the ideas in an easy-to-grab spot, I have created a list of these titles at Indie Bound and an aStore on Amazon.com.

Note: The bookcover images in this post link to Amazon.com and include an affiliate code that, through purchases, may earn income for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (aka Cybils). The Indie Bound List and aStore include an affiliate code for the Reading Tub that, through purchases, may earn income for this literacy nonprofit. You are not obligated to use those links or make purchases through them.


Susan

What Do Librarians Do All Day?

Posted by Susan on May 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Librarian Job DescriptionLibraries
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Very few people realize all the things that children's librarians do as regular parts of their jobs. My feeling is that the more you know about what a librarian does, the more they can help you. Do we spend all day reading? How about walking around and shushing people in stern voices? Not so much, no.

Children's LibrarianThis post is the first in a series about what being a youth services librarian entails. I thought I'd start off with the biggest part of the job: research. Librarians don't know everything (although I firmly believe my colleagues do). Librarians are professional researchers. We may not know the answer, but we know how to find the answer.

Sometimes, the answers are easy. Questions like "what's the name of the new series by the author of Percy Jackson?" or "I need information about colonial musical instruments" or "What's that book about a fish that grows bigger and bigger until it needs a swimming pool as a tank?" can usually be answered quickly. (Answers: The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, take a look in books about colonial life or a music reference book and A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer.) Then you have the challenging ones that involve some creativity. Here's an example:

NATO Flag.jpgSeveral months ago, a 5th grader asked me for all our children's books about NATO. As it happens, NATO isn't a hugely popular topic for children's book writers and our juvenile section has exactly zero books on the subject. What to do? Use the internet, you say? No such luck. This assignment (like most elementary school assignments) specifically prohibits online sources. No problem, let's check the books on the 1940's, since NATO was founded in 1949. Nope, nothing there. How about the books about the 1950's when NATO became a larger entity? Still nothing. Let's take a look in the encyclopedia (which is still an excellent resource, by the way, even in the digital age.) Hmmm.... Dwight Eisenhower was the first supreme commander of NATO. Let's walk over to the biography section, and voila, there we find tons of information about NATO on a fifth grade reading level in biographies on Eisenhower.

Librarians can find you an answer to almost any question. Just ask.

Pam

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical

Posted by Pam on May 13, 2010 at 10:01 AM in Book Events
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When the folks at the Kennedy Center had an idea to do a show based on the award-winning book Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems didn't hesitate. Okay, maybe he hesitated, but he certainly accepted the challenge to write the script and lyrics of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. For over two years he worked with more than thirty people to turn the picture book into a one-hour family musical.

KKTBD_KnuffleBunnyACautionaryMusical_138.jpgWith Grammy Award winning composer Michael Silversher taking on the music, Mo worked most closely on the script with dramaturge Megan Alrutz. As he notes on his blog, "If you ever get the chance to get your own Dramaturge, do it! They're awesome. The thought of losing my Dramaturge to other dramaturgically needy projects in the future fills me with dread. And, as long as you're getting a Dramaturge, get Megan. She rocks." Workshops and rehearsals with the cast and crew helped to further shape the musical with even additional tweaking even on the Friday before the performance. 

The musical certainly feels like a Mo Willems production. Fans will instantly recognize the background projected on the stage and even the clothes the characters are wearing as being from the book. The plot is the same, the father takes his young daughter to the laundromat and misplaces her beloved Knuffle Bunny, causing a toddler meltdown of miscommunication and complete frustration.

For the musical, the part of Trixie is played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, an old pal from Mo's Sesame Street and Sheep in the Big City days. She dives into the tough role, portraying Trixie's garbled speech and active imagination with a childlike enthusiasm. Michael John Casey gives the audience a fantastic Dad, who is ready to take on anything and make it fun. Erika Rose is the knowing Mom, and Matthew McGloin and Gia Mora handle the other characters as Puppeteers.

The children in the audience laughed during the show, and there is much for adults to appreciate as well. Trixie's inability to communicate creates much of the humor of the book and the musical, and yet it's also a real source of frustration and helplessness for both father and daughter. The musical gave an opportunity to explore this deeper connection to our own feelings of inadequacy as parents. That point when we recognize that our child has ideas and an individually that we can't always comprehend or even recognize.

This theme is evident as the father sings about all the things that he will teach his daughter, while not noticing her already intense fascination with the world around her. In fact as she expresses delight in a friendly pigeon - yes, that pigeon - her father scares the bird away as a "dirty rat with wings." As poor Trixie sings a sad song of toddler gibberish - complete with boa and spotlight - about the loss of her stuffed friend, her father is lost in misunderstanding. And yet as he feels that frustration of not getting it and not doing it right, he still is able to tap into what is most important - the love that he feels for his little girl. Of course, it all turns out fine at the end.

29760_390435789173_15853939173_3841347_5754780_n.jpgOverall, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical is a fun show for kids and their adults, with catchy music and lots of laughs along with a sentimental spirit. And what struck Mo Willems as a member of the audience? " I loved holding my daughter's hand during the song "Really, Really Love You." Best moment by far."

The show travels for eighteen months or so before returning to Kennedy Center next year, so look to catch a performance at a theater near you. If you're excited about the possibility of another Mo musical, be encouraged that he's talking about ways to work together more with the group, having enjoyed this experience so much. Whatever it is or may be, count me in the audience. Or crashing the premiere party as I may or may not have done this time. Read all about my personal experience at the musical over at MotherReader.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Once Upon a Time - The Magic of Fairy Tales

Posted by Terry on May 12, 2010 at 11:00 AM in ClassicsPicture BooksRecommendations
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Most of the time you will find me reading a children's book, but this past week I took time out to read Ten Tips for Raising a Reader by Fran Hawk, a school librarian in the Charleston County (SC) school system. Fran talked about lots of genres and ways to use books, but her discussion about the power of fairy tales and folktales really stuck with me. By way of background, Fran was talking about her first job as a librarian. She worked in a rural school library where the students came from farmers and migrant workers.

Little Match Girl

I was unprepared for the realization that ingratitude and a sense of entitlement were major characteristics of these children ... A friend in a similar situation tackled this frustrating attitude with a direct hit. She read the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale,The Little Match Girl, to her first grade class. They were stunned, as well they might have been! ... For the first graders, it turned out to be a powerful magic bullet. That story unleashed a cascade of empathy and sympathy never seen before. Weeks later, the students were still mulling over the implications. Imagining themselves as 'little match girls' was helping them understand the importance of gratitude and kindness. This reaction could probably be expected regardless of the children's social and/or economic status.

Wow, never underestimate the power of a story! Especially one that has a lesson in it.

Folktales are both a category of literature and a type of story that includes fairy tales, legends, fables, and tall tales, to name a few. In general, the story has just a few characters, a plot build around specific events, an element of good v. evil, and a "moral to the story." Not all folktales have royalty and magic, but many do.

All cultures have their own folklore, but not all stories are suitable for all audiences. Some fairy tales, like The Elves and the Shoemaker, are universal and can be enjoyed by even the youngest audience. William Austin's Peter Rugg legends (described as tall tales and ghost stories) are for more mature audiences. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) has a terrific list of folktales and fairy tales that gives you a story summary and an audience recommendation.

Folktales, fairy tales, legends, fables - whatever you call them - are stories that allow us to explore history and cultures, social dynamics, and feelings. They stretch our imaginations and some even make us laugh! Because there are so many ways we can engage with these types of stories, today's Bookworm Basics explores folktales of all types.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

It is easy to bring folktales to life with this group! Whether it's through puppets or on the playground, kids love to act out these stories. Who doesn't like to huff and puff and blow the house down? On the First-School Wisconsin site you'll find lots of coloring pages for fairy tales and fables.

The Mitten by Jan BrettWhen it comes to picture books, Jan Brett is probably the most prolific author/illustrator in the genre. Her stories include classics like Beauty and the Beast as well as tales from around the globe. On her website you'll find coloring pages, videos, and printable games that can bring the story into "real life."

Personal favorites:

Burro's TortillasBurro's Tortillas by Terri Fields, illustrated by Sherry Rogers (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007). If you've read The Little Red Hen, you know the sequence of events. Still, this retelling - with different animals and some Spanish mixed in - offers a nice change.

rabbit cooks up a cunning planRabbit Cooks Up a Cunning Plan by Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Bruno Robert (Child's Play, 2008). The story has the feel of a classic fable. It has a clever twist on the outwit-the-bully theme. I also loved how it captured the idea that sometimes we are our "own worst enemy."

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

chicken littleFairy tales and fables can be excellent "easy reader" books. Because they are simply told and have lots of repetition (think Chicken Little), they offer new readers a chance to practice sight words. With these readers you can also take folklore to the next level with fairy tales that tell a classic story but add a new twist, sometimes called fractured fairy tales. The Hennepin County Library has a nice list of recommendations to get you started.

Personal favorites:

bee-man.jpgThe Bee Man of Orn by Frank B. Stockton, illustrated by P.J. Lynch (Candlewick Press, 2003). This is a gorgeous book, with a not-well-known story. There is an audio reading of the story included, too. This is great for letting children follow along with text to build their sight vocabulary.
little-ruth.jpgLittle Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf by Hank Wesselman, illustrated by Raquel Abreau (Illumination Arts, 2004). This is another fractured fairy tale. Instead of wolves there are bullies; and Ruth isn't without fault, either.

paco_chile.jpgPaco and the Giant Chile Plant / Paco y Planta de Chile Gigante by Keith Polette, illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba (Raven Tree Press, ©2008). Think Jack and the Beanstalk with a great new storyline and a totally unexpected twist.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond

With older kids, some of the fun of reading folklore can be exploring the cultures that "created" them. The Wikipedia List of Fairy Tales has a nice chart that lists fairy tales and the culture that popularized it. Another idea is to contrast/compare a story across cultures. In the May 2000 edition of Book Links (an American Library Association journal), Mary Northrop has an annotated list of Cinderella stories from around the world. She offers some activity tips at the end that would work with any book.

Another way to engage kids is to let them rewrite the story. At KidWebsites.com, children ages 8 and older can write a fractured fairy tale. If you're looking for a place to start, Marilyn Kinsella has a ready-made bibliography of fractured fairy tales, as well as some suggested activities to engage kids in modifying existing stories or creating new ones.

Personal favorites:

grandmother.jpgGrandmothers' Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures edited by Burleigh Muten, illustrated by Sian Bailey (Barefoot Books, 1999). Some of the stories in this collection will sound similar to stories kids already know. What I love is that it captures some timeless tales of magic, wisdom, and perseverance that children will remember their whole life. There is a CD that comes with the book, which makes it a nice selection for dormant readers, too.

monsters and water beastsMonsters and Water Beasts: Creatures of Fact or Fiction? by Karen Hokanson Miller; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Henry Holt and Company, 2007). This nonfiction (!) book provides a brief description of nine mythical creatures and shares facts and fables about their existence.

scratchy-mountain.jpgUp and Down the Scratchy Mountains or the Search for a Suitable Princess by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Greg Call (Random House Children's Books, 2008). If I have to have one princess book, this is it. This is not a straight-forward once-upon-a-time fairy tale, and it does take about a chapter or two to get into the author's style. Once you do, though, you're rewarded with a great story.

Fairy tales and folkore are timeless stories we can all enjoy together. It is a chance to pull out a favorite from your own childhood and pay forward that love with the kids in your lives. Whether you grab a book or start telling the story from memory, you're kids will always remember that once upon a time, ...

Note: Book title links take you to Amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. Purchases made through those links may provide income for our nonprofit. You're not obligated to purchase through those links; they are provided for your convenience.

Susan

Have I Got a Deal for You!

Posted by Susan on May 10, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Book Buying
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Books are expensive. As someone who's been both a bookstore employee and a book buyer, I can attest to that. And I'm sure you know that too. As a librarian, obviously, I always recommend coming to the library where you can get as many books as you want for free.

But I also understand the importance of owning your own books. I have a huge collection (part of it is pictured here) and those books are truly special because we can return to them month after month, year after year. But how do you amass such a collection on a budget? Here's some advice: it's all about book sales. Now, I'm not talking about used bookstores. I love those too, but the books are often between $5 and $10 each.

I'm talking about the magic sales. The ones where hardcovers are $1 and paperbacks are 50 cents. Haven't seen one? You can find them in nearly every community.

Start with your local library. Virtually every library has an ongoing book sale. There you'll find books that were removed from the library because they're not in good enough shape for the collection. You'll also see lots of books that were donated to the library but weren't needed in the collection. Most library systems also have large book sales too, usually once or twice a year. The book sales are run by the Friends of the Library, and all of the money goes directly to the library. And it's not just libraries. I've seen $1 books at sales organized by elementary schools, churches, preschools, scout troops, etc. Look around, and you'll find them. The one pictured below is from Arlington Public Library's incredible semi-annual book sale. (Keep in mind that you're only seeing a very small part of it in the picture.)

APL Booksale.jpg

And once you find them, here are a few tips about how to make the most out of them:

-Arrive early, arrive early, arrive early. I can't stress this enough. That's when the good books are for sale. If you wait towards the end, you'll be looking at the dregs.

-Buy hardcover books. I've got nothing against paperbacks, but let's face it, they're cheaper. An average children's picture book costs between $6-$8 in paper and $15-$20 in hardcover. You get the most bang for your buck with the hardcover books, which last much longer. At a large book sale like the ones I'm describing, if you come early it is possible to get 15 hardcover books in newish condition for $15... or the same price as one hardcover picture book in a store.

-Stock up on series. Does your child have a favorite series? You'll always find these books at book sales. You can pick up a multitude of Magic Tree House or Berenstain Bear books, for example, for fifty cents each (and sometimes 25 cents!) These all come in paperbacks, which of course negates the piece of advice above.

-Buy books that are rare. I know I just told you to buy well known and popular books. But, also keep an eye out for books that you don't see everywhere. For example, Good Night Moon and the Very Hungry Caterpillar are everywhere. They're easy to find. But that book you loved as a child that's out of print now is harder to come by. Snatch it up before someone else does.

-Volunteer to help with the book sale. I've helped sort donations and organize the books for a few of these kinds of sales. It's great fun and extremely helpful to the organization running it. You don't need to know anything about books... except maybe the difference between picture books and chapter books. Plus, you're one of the very first people to see the available books.

Can't find a book sale like this anywhere near you? Organize one yourself. It's a great fundraiser for any non-profit organization. Donations are not hard to come by... everyone has a box of books or two they aren't using in their attic or basement.

Keep in mind that what you can get at a book sale varies wildly. If you're looking for a specific book, you should definitely go to a book store. If you're looking for a serendipitous find at a low price, try a book sale. Why did I write this post today? Because this weekend, at my son's elementary school I bought a stack of books that were a mixture of hardcovers, paperbacks and series, plus CDs and DVDs for $12.50. The actual retail price was over $200.

If you're ever in the DC area, be sure to make a special stop in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Montgomery County Friends of the Library run three permanent year-round bookstores where the books are a dollar and below. Don't miss the one at the Wheaton Library, the bookstore there is absolutely enormous and larger than many retail bookstores.

Have you found something incredible at one of these sales? Do you know of a great sale that you want to tell us about? Please leave a comment!

Pam

Thursday Three: Mothers

Posted by Pam on May 6, 2010 at 3:25 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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It's time again to focus on Mom with cards, flowers, and... picture books starting with baby, moving to preschooler and ending with a story of a little girl all-grown-up.

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor
by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen

Before You Were Here, Mi AmorAn Hispanic mother talks to her baby about all the loving thoughts, wishes, and preparations in the time before he or she was born. Filled with Spanish words that flow seamlessly within the text, the book brings a fresh take to the mommy-love category of picture books. The illustrations make the translations clear, though a glossary is included at the end. For example, the picture of the little girl with her ear on mommy's tummy with "Before you were here, tu hermana placed her face against mi barriguita and whispered, "¡Hola, bebe!" Oh, and before we drift too far from illustrations - or fresh takes for that matter - the artwork with its bright colors and bold lines is a nice change from the usual pastels that tend to dominate these books about a mother's love. Definitely a keeper, and if you don't believe me, you can check out the universal five-star ratings at Amazon's reviews.


Just Like Mama
by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Julia Gorton

Just Like MamaAs a mommy and daughter share a regular day, the little girl recounts all the wonderful things a great mom can do. The glowing testimony to a mother's love starts in the morning, "with a whirl and twirl across the fuzzy purple rug, she swoops down on my bed and scoops me up into a hug. Nobody wakes me up just like mama." At the end, it becomes a love letter right back, "Nobody loves mama just like me!" This sweet book will remind you of all the little things that us moms do right. Things that are sometimes perfect in their very ordinary nature - like brushing hair - or ordinary things that can be made special with an extra touch - like whipped cream in the cocoa. Simply delightful for young readers.


In Our Mothers' House
by Patricia Polacco

In Our Mothers' HouseA grown-up daughter tells the story of her and her siblings' years in their mothers' house. And note that apostrophe, because this is a book about two mothers and their adopted kids. The topic is handled in a nonchalant manner, except for occasional reference to a neighbor who "just plain didn't like us." Okay, and one page where the neighbor spits out her hatred of the two moms. But after that, it's back to the block party, and making dresses and growing up. Regular life. Polocco's illustrations are always special, and here they capture the love of this beautiful family. The amount of text and meandering story would make it a better choice for older picture book readers or younger ones with longer attention spans. Overall, a wonderful view into family, love, and acceptance.


Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

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