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Pam: February 2010 Archives


Thursday Three: Black History Month and Libraries

Posted by Pam on February 25, 2010 at 10:50 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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I really wanted to come up with a more concise title, but as it stands, these three fiction picture books focus on the place of the library in African American history. Two of them were nominated for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book awards this year, and the first book won a Coretta Scott King Award in 2001.

Goin’ Someplace Special
by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Goin’ Someplace SpecialIt’s the 1950s and ’Tricia Ann is heading downtown in Nashville to go “Someplace Special.” Her grandmother is reluctant to let her go on her own, but when she relents, ’Trica Ann faces a journey of pride, humiliation, encouragement, and ultimately joy as she reaches her destination — the public library, open to whites and blacks alike. The injustices of the segregated south are made all too real with this likeable character facing off against the obstacles. Pinkney’s lovely watercolors bring just the right feeling of the era to the book.

Finding Lincoln
by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Colin Bootman
Finding LincolnWhen this story takes place in Alabama in 1951, Louis isn't allowed to use the public library. When his father's own book collection runs thin, he turns to the small library at his church to find a book on President Lincoln. When he can't find the information he wants to know, he bravely steps into the public library to find the book he needs. Some people are rude, but one librarian is helpful in getting Louis the book he wants which shows how Abraham Lincoln starting shaking things up even as a boy - just like Louis. The book contains additional information about segregation in libraries, plus a bit about Abraham Lincoln. The watercolor illustrations are lovely and capture the feelings and characters quite nicely.

Ron's Big Mission
by Rose Blue, Corinne Naden, illustrated by Don Tate
Ron's Big MissionRon loves books and is well-known at the Lake City Public Library for his frequent visits. He spends hours reading there, but this day is different. The nine year old boy is going to take on the system by demanding to be allowed to check out books. Knowing that the privilege is reserved for whites, he literally takes a stand to get his own library card. Based on a real incident in the life of Astronaut Ron McNair, the story gives a different feel to discrimination than most books on the subject, focusing on the institutional ruling than belief system. All of the individuals who encounter Ron - from the friendly elderly lady to the helpful librarian to the befuddled police - all want to help him, mostly by getting around the law. While it may not offer a more valid a perspective than other books that tackle discrimination, it puts the emphasis on an unfair law rather than racist people. The illustrations also lighten the tone, with the bright colors and expressive faces. A particularly good book for read-aloud in the classroom or library.

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


Thursday Three: Snow

Posted by Pam on February 18, 2010 at 9:50 AM in Picture BooksRecommendationsSeasonal Books
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I read that this winter is the only instance recorded that snow was on the ground in 49 of the 50 states at the same time. Hawaii was the holdout, even though they do get snow on their mountaintops sometimes. With the snowiest season I remember - and a record-breaking one in the Washington, DC area - it seems most appropriate to bring out the snow books.

In the SnowIn the Snow
by Peggy Collins
When a young boy wakes up to discover a world of white, he is in for a day of snowy fun. He finds animal tracks and tries to catch the rabbit who made them. He builds a snowman with his daddy, complete with hardhat and a wrench. And at the end of his adventure, goes inside for warmth and hugs. With bright, lively pictures and simple text, this is a book for the youngest readers.

Danny’sDanny’s First Snow
by Leonid Gore
When a little rabbit goes out in his first snowfall, he sees friends in the piles of snow all around him. But they turn out to be trees and such buried in the snow. But it’s all good, because Mommy's waiting for him. The fuzzy art style makes it appear as if we’re viewing the illustrations through a sleet-encrusted window, which is nicer than it sounds. Gentle snowy-time book.

Snow Day!Snow Day!
by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Adam Gustavson

“Did you hear that? Did the weatherman just say what I thought he did? Did he say... SNOW? Oh please, let it snow. Lots and lots of snow.” This person is ready for a snow day and all the things that go along with it. No alarm clock. Staying in PJs. Playing outside. A day to watch TV and read a new book. To sled and throw snowballs. The special fun in this book is the surprise that I won’t spoil, and the fun illustrations that bring the reader into the imagining of the perfect snow day. (Even if you've had enough of them this year.)

I've already talked about the lovely Waiting for Winter and at MotherReader, I have a review of a very relevant book, The Terrible Storm. And I have so many others that I like for the winter months. What are your favorites?

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


Thursday Three: Love

Posted by Pam on February 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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In the library, these are the days when we get frantic parents looking for a Valentine book to read at their child's school and finding that all the books are gone. But here are some nice books about love that will nicely fill the gap.

Never Too Little To LoveNever Too Little To Love
by Jeanne Willis
A mouse who wants to give a kiss to his friend, but she's way above him - literally. He stacks things precariously to get a little bit higher, but it's pretty clear that this homemade ladder is not going to hold. Fortunately the giraffe he loves bends down and offers a kiss. Simple and sweet, the book has sturdy pages for the littlest readers.

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story
by Lisa Wheeler
Porcupining: A Prickly Love StoryAlone and ignored in the petting zoo, the poor porcupine can’t find somebody to love. Oh but he tries, courting other animals with unintentionally insulting songs. Because no female, pigs included, want to be called "pink and fat." Just as he is about to give up hope, he meets a darling hedgehog. The cheery illustrations feature clever details, and the funny story will charm all audiences.

Pierre in Love
by Sara Pennypacker
Pierre in LoveA fisherman rat is too shy to talk to the ballerina bunny he loves. He leaves her gifts and flowers in secret, and eventually she catches him. Unfortunately, she loves another. So sad. Pierre stills feels better after having shared his secret and encourages her to do the same with wonderful results for all. The watercolor artwork of the fishing village captures the feelings of this gentle tale.

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


Thursday Three: Cybils Picture Books

Posted by Pam on February 4, 2010 at 10:23 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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In January, I talked about three of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book Finalists with an eye towards which ones might win a Caldecott medal. I was right about two of them. "Bam!" said the lady!

I also reviewed one of the other finalists - Jeremy Draws a Monster - as a book that I was giving to my three year old niece. But with a bit more than a week to go before the ultimate winner is chosen, it's certainly time to share the other three books from the Cybils Fiction Picture Book shortlist.

The Listeners
by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Mike Benny
The ListenersThe lives of the slaves are hard work, little food, and old clothes. But there are also times of pride, worship, and family. Under the cover of darkness, the slave children sneak under the windows of the Big House to hear the news and then take it back to their community. Inside the conversations are elements of harshness, indifference, compassion, and with any luck - hope. Beautifully rendered, this story for older readers will touch your heart and open your eyes.

Silly Tilly
by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by David Slonim
Silly TillyHere's a goose who "took her baths in apple juice," so we can safely say that she's pretty silly. Her crazy antics get to her barnyard friends, who read her the riot act to stop the silliness. Later though, they miss laughing and the miss the real Tilly, who they learn to accept just the way she is. The value of the book is in the wild lines that will have kids giggling even as they are learning about rhymes. It's a perfect read aloud with wonderful rhythm and expressive illustration that captures this very silly goose.

The Book That Eats People
by John Perry, illustrated by Mark Fearing
The Book That Eats PeopleDark and deadly, this is a book to be feared as it eats people. Throughout the pages the reader learns of many of the unsuspecting victims of this most dangerous book. The illustrations are appropriately creepy, and the tone is darkly comedic. While I personally would have put this book as most appropriate for older readers - say first and second grade - I've had personal reports of much younger children who want to hear this book read again and again. So beware, because it might just take over your family as well.

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