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Posts by 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.


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!


Be a Model

Posted by Susan on May 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Early Literacy
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Reader, that is.

We all know that children love imitating adults. If a child sees an adult on the phone, taking pictures, using keys, etc. they want to do it too... hence the big market for toy phones, keys and cameras.

The same thing holds true for reading. If your child sees you doing it, they will want to do it too. Here's a few things to ask yourself:

Is there a stack of books on your nightstand? When you want to wind down at night, do you read books or watch television?

Do you make reading look like work? Or do you read to relax?

Susan readingDo you visit the library regularly? When you go, do you get a few books or a lot? Do you check out books not only for your children, but for yourself too?

Is reading the newspaper a part of your daily routine? Or do you get your news and information from the television or radio?

Do you subscribe to magazines and take time to read them when they arrive?

Do you bring reading material with you wherever you go? If there's a long wait at the doctor's office (and your children are miraculously occupied), are you reading or talking on your cell phone?

If you let your children see that reading is important to you, it will become important to them, too.


When I was your age...

Posted by Susan on April 26, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Classics
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Here's a common situation that happens several times a week in the children's section of the library and the bookstore.

Dinosaurs Before Dark.jpgA parent or grandparent comes in and says that their child loved the Magic Tree House series (or another series at a similarly easy reading level), but now can't seem to get them interested in something else. When asked what they tried next, the answer is almost always Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys or Dick and Jane, because the parent loved to read them when they were growing up.

I've got nothing against these books. Lots of people (me included) learned to read with Dick and Jane or tried to read every single Nancy Drew book when they were a kid. There are still kids that like them and enjoy them, but these books are far less requested these days.

Secret of the Old Clock.jpgAn adult's memory of reading a book or series may be wonderful and magical. But when recommending a book the important thing is to make sure that it's the right book at the right time for the right kid. For more about the right time, see my post about reading Charlotte's Web to my five year old son.

I'd recommend the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew to third graders and above who enjoy mysteries and long series. If you hand it to a kid that has just finished Magic Tree House (grades K-2) they are going to be completely overwhelmed. Take one of those yellow or blue books off the shelf at a library and read it again. The books are triple the length and the vocabulary is much tougher. For a kid interested in early chapter books, I'd try something from this list instead. Or, if they're really interested in the subject matter, there are now multiple Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series in early chapter format and with contemporary characters.

Children's literature is an always developing and ever changing field. A lot has happened since I was a kid and there are thousands more choices available now than there ever were before. Let your children revel in all the great new books.

Of course, there are classic books that are always recommended, but read them again or ask a librarian before handing them to a child. They were all products of the time in which they were written, reflect those attitudes and prejudices, and they might be harder, easier, longer, or shorter than you remember them. There are those wonderful magical books too, that do hold up when you reread them. Books like Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte's Web have been in print for decades because they're timeless and a joy to share with a child.

I Am Going.jpgSo, sure, Dick and Jane gets the job done if you're teaching a child to read. But why not use Dr. Seuss or Elephant and Piggie? Both Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems revolutionized the beginning reader field with books that not only contain good, easy to read vocabulary, but that are also bright, silly and funny. If your child is very interested in something, there are now books for beginning readers available on nearly every subject. They can learn to read with a controlled vocabulary book about Star Wars, princesses, riddles, trucks and lots more. Picking something that they want to read will make all the difference.

It's impossible to keep up on all the changes in the children's book field. Here's where a librarian or a children's bookseller can be very helpful and do something that Google and Amazon can't. We know the new titles, we know what's hot, we know what sits on the shelf, we know the latest award winners, we know which books parents and kids come back for again and again. We're also extremely experienced in listening to readers about the things they like and the books they've previously enjoyed and helping them find something new. And we're happy to help you.

Got a book you remember loving as a kid that didn't hold up when you re-read it as an adult? How about one that was just as good or better than you remember it? If you shared it with you kids, what did they think about it?

Need a recommendation for your budding reader? I'm all ears... please leave a comment below.

And if you read the books mentioned above as a child, here are the complete lists of the original series in order for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Enjoy!


Baby Storytimes

Posted by Susan on April 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Libraries
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Question: Did you read the title of this post and think it was a typo? Did you wonder how on earth it is possible to do storytimes for kids that little?

Answer: Actually, libraries do baby stor times all the time. (Sometimes they're called lapsit programs.) Personally, they're one of my very favorite things to do as a children's librarian. No matter what you do, the babies never complain.

Here's some commonly asked things you may be wondering right about now...

Question: What do you do in a baby storytime?
Answer: Lots of things, including songs, nursery rhymes, tickles, bounces and lullabies.

Susan Kusel storytime.jpgQuestion: Do you read books?
Answer: Yes, but usually only one or two (as opposed to three or four books in a preschool story time). If books are used, they're typically very short or they're sung aloud.

Question: How old does the baby have to be?
Answer: Ask your librarian.... but the answer is almost always that there's no age limit. Newborns are fine.

Question: What if I bring my baby and they take a nap through the whole program?
Answer: Let them sleep. Baby storytimes are as much for the adults as they are for the kids. Children's librarians are great at offering tips, teaching songs and making recommendations to help adults use books and songs with babies.

Question: What if I'm exhausted and haven't gotten out of the house for a week?
Answer: Then baby storytimes are the perfect place to go... because all the other adults are just as tired and worn out as you are. It's a great place to meet other parents and caregivers experiencing the same things. Plus, it's nice to have a reason to get out of the house.

Question: Does my local library have a storytime for babies and toddlers?
Answer: Find out! Check their website and call or e-mail the children's department. Better yet, stop by... there's almost always a story time schedule flier available.

How much do these programs cost?
Answer: You get a trained librarian familiar with child development and early literacy skills, plus a thoughtfully planned, fun and educational program for the low, low, low price of: nothing. Library story times are always free.

Question: Have you ever been to a story time designed for babies? Did you and your baby enjoy it?
Answer: I'd love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment.


Thank a Library Worker Today and Every Day

Posted by Susan on April 13, 2010 at 9:57 PM in Libraries
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Ah, National Library Week. It's one of my favorite celebrations. The best part of the week is always National Library Workers Day. It was yesterday, April 13, 2010, but I celebrate it at my library every day.

National Library week 2010.jpgLibraries are enormous and complicated systems to run. It would be impossible to have a library if not for all the amazing people that work so hard. Some of them you might see regularly, such as librarians or people at the circulation desk, but there are so many unsung people you may not even know about. Here are a few I'd like to highlight. All of these positions exist in my library system and I'm sure they do in yours as well. At smaller libraries, there might be one or two people who play several of these roles.

Let's take a walk around the library and meet some of them. We've got to start with the custodians. I can't begin to tell you what a valuable part of the team they are, particularly in the children's section. They take care of all kinds of spills and accidents that happen all day long and they also set up for various events. There's the security people who keep the library safe for children and everyone else. And the facility managers and repairmen who make sure that everything is in working order and up to code.

Let's go in the back room and say hi to all those great people who work in circulation. You only see them when they're at the circulation desk, dealing tirelessly with a variety of issues and patron complaints and keeping numerous policies straight in their heads. But they're not done when they're off the desk. They also spend quite a bit of time checking in returned books and processing holds and transfers.

Shelver.jpgWave hello to the shelvers as they sort and place in order all the books, DVDs, CDs, and everything else on their carts. Then they'll go shelve them... something that takes a surprising amount of time, particularly with thin picture books. This picture of a shelver is from the Abilene Public Library.

Stop by and meet the branch manager. This is the person responsible for everything happening in their branch including budgets, schedules and fire alarms. They're who the staff call if there's ever a major (or minor) problem. At smaller branches, these folks also do circulation, shelving, reference and everything else.

Here are the people who deal with interlibrary loan. They get books and other materials from all around the country for you, usually for free or at a low cost. You'll also see lots of green boxes back here for audio books for the blind and physically disabled. WTBBLgreencassettes1.jpgThis picture is from the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in downtown Seattle. Did you know that many libraries also provide service to home bound patrons?

As long as we're back here, do you see that enormous bookcase full of DVD and CD cases, with each one missing a disk? Be sure to thank the folks who handle the audiovisual problems and match up the hundreds of disks returned with their empty cases, so that the material is still available for the rest of the patrons to use.

Hey, look at all the brand new books on the shelves! They didn't appear there by magic. Let's walk over to the technical services department, which is usually at a library's central branch. Don't interrupt the selectors, they're incredibly busy reading reviews and new books. As they purchase, they are trying to make a balanced and current collection for the library and to stretch every dollar of the materials budget. Often there are only one of two selectors for the entire library system.

Look at all those boxes of new books. Someone has to unpack them, pay the invoices and report problems and damaged books. The catalogers and book processors are over here too. They make sure that every book has correct labels, stickers and an accurate catalog record.... an extremely time consuming job. Then the books have to be sent to each individual branch.

Step onto the loading dock. Here's the driver who visits every single branch, every day and brings new books and holds. They also pick up and return all the books returned to branches other than the ones they were borrowed from. (The drivers in this picture are from the Metropolitan Library System).

Also, back here, there's a spot where books get repaired so that the library can hang onto each book as long as possible. The irreparable books that have fallen apart are being replaced constantly so that the materials can be made available to more patrons.

Let's go upstairs and say hello to some more unsung heroes. Here we can find the people who answer the phone, order the supplies, pay the bills and keep the library humming. Thank the tech support department, who work tirelessly fixing endless computer problems and keeping the website current. Did you attend a good program at the library recently? Thank the person who put all the effort into coordinating and planning it. Odds are that you heard about the program because of the work of the publicity department. They find ways to advertise everything happening at the library, in a variety of different ways including Facebook, Twitter, blogs and press releases. The human resources, training, and budget departments are also invaluable pieces in the puzzle. Here's the library system's director... the person who has to make tough budget and management decisions and who works with the community and elected officials to advocate for the library.

Let's walk out to the reference desk. Here we can meet the people (librarians, library assistants, library associates and substitutes) who answer every kind of question you can possibly imagine. Listen in for a minute: "Where's the bathroom?", "Where's the nearest store that sells a particular product?", "I have a problem with my water bill. Who do I call?", "What book would who recommend for a second grader who reads on a fifth grade level and likes fantasy?", "What's a good, new mystery novel?", "I recently got diagnosed with an illness. Can you help me find everything there is to know about it?", "I just invented something. What do I do next?", "I need a county map from 1850", "Can you give me a list of local daycares?", "Which tax form do I use?", "What's the name of that new blockbuster movie that came out last week? Can I put the DVD on hold?"

Lots of public libaries have archives and goverment records. Take a look at the work room where the archivists preserve and take care of all the original documents, maps and pictures. Do you see all the storage? There are lots of documents back here that don't fit on the shelves.

book sale.jpgDon't forget to thank a friend... the Friends of the Library. These tireless volunteers sort used books for book sales and help with shelving and circulation and much more. They also do various fundraisers... and every penny goes back to the library. This money helps provide all kind of programming such as summer reading and author visits that wouldn't be a possibility otherwise.

Our tour could go on forever, you would be amazed at how many people it takes to run a library. We only met a few of them today. The next time you're at a library, take a moment to thank these folks. Even if you don't run into them, realize how much work it takes to get each book on the shelf, every day.

And then, tell someone about it. Let the branch manager or library director know. Let your elected officials know. In these troubled economic times, virtually every library system in the country is facing reduced hours, major budget reductions, staff layoffs and branch closures. If your library is important to you, speak up to the people who can do something about it.

Thank you to every single person at the Arlington Public Libraries. I am in awe of the work all of you do everyday. Without you, there would be no library.

Is there someone at your library that stands out? Do you work at a library? What do you do? I'd love to hear all about it.


Children's Book Quilts

Posted by Susan on April 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Fun and GamesPicture Books
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A few months ago I got a package in the mail. Inside were two handmade quilts from my wonderful Aunt Joan. But these weren't just any quilts. These were special. They were made them from children's books.

Okay, not literal books, but she used book-inspired fabric. Take a look at this amazing Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt that she made for my son.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt by Joan Scherf

Wait, there's more! Look at the back. It's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Brown Bear Brown Bear quilt close-up by Joan Scherf

It's an incredible quilt because my son feels like he's sleeping inside the books. I can't tell you how much fun it is to read these two books as we point out every detail on the quilt. And we can tell the stories without the books too.

Here's the second quilt she made. This beautiful baby quilt is for my younger son. Doesn't it just make you want to curl up under it and read books with your kids? (The lump at the top is the baby sleeping under it).

Baby book quilt by Joan Scherf

Want to make your own? You can find the material from Andover Fabrics. Not only do they have fabric from Eric Carle's books, there's also Maisy and Olivia. If you look around, you can find fabric for Angelina Ballerina, Peter Rabbit, Paddington, the Poky Little Puppy and more.

There are many great children's books about quilts, but one of my very favorites is a book that actually is a quilt itself. Several quilts, in fact. Take a look at Anna Grossnickle Hines' beautiful book 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe. For an in depth and fascinating look at the creation process (which was far more complicated than you can imagine) head over to her website. Click on the picture of 1,2 Buckle My Shoe, and then scroll down to the link that says "see the step by step process." Her account is also an excellent description of how picture books are made. You can also find more information on her website about the other quilt books she's created.

Do you have your own picture of something you made based on a children's book? Tell me about it and e-mail a picture to It doesn't have to be a quilt... I'm fascinated by all kinds of creative things, such as cakes.

All quilts pictured above were created by Joan Scherf.


Books for Passover

Posted by Susan on March 29, 2010 at 12:00 AM in RecommendationsSeasonal Books
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Tonight is the first night of Passover, and the perfect time for me to share some of my favorite Passover books with you. Of course, as mentioned a few weeks ago- they might be hard to find at your library today, but there's always next year.

A Tale of Two Seders.jpgI really enjoyed Rabbi Mindy Portnoy's new book, A Tale of Two Seders. It talks about how a child with divorced parents is able to celebrate in different and special ways with both of them. Plus, it also includes many different Passover traditions and some great charoset recipes from many different countries and cultures.

I always recommend the Sammy Spider books written by Sylvia Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Kahn for Jewish holidays. They're fun to read, creatively illustrated with great holiday descriptions and they always introduce a new concept such as colors, shapes or the five senses. There are three books for Passover: Sammy Spider's First Passover, Sammy Spider's Passover Fun Book and Sammy Spider's First Haggadah. I also like The Mouse in the Matzah Factory by Francine Medoff that explains how special handmade shmurah matzah is made.

For next year's Passover, Jaqueline Jules has a great new board book called Going on a Hametz Hunt due to be published in September. In simple, rhyming text it makes a fun counting story and Rick Brown's illustrations visually guide you to turn the next page.

Matzah that Papa Brought Home.jpgThere are several other books I'd like to recommend, but they all seem to have gone out of print, even those published in the last few years. Check your library (in a few weeks) for Passover! by Roni Schotter, This is Passover illustrated by Santiago Cohen, The Magician's Visit: A Passover Tale retold by Barbara Diamond Goldin and The Matzah that Papa Brought Home by Fran Manushkin.

Looking for a cookbook you can share with your kids? Try the Jewish Holidays Cookbook by Jill Colella Bloomfield and Matzah Meals: A Passover Cookbook for Kids by Judy Tabs and Barbara Steinberg.

There are many Haggadah options ranging from simple to complex. No matter which one you use, read it out loud to your children before the seder. This will help them prepare and know what to expect. If you're invited to someone else's house for Passover, ask if you can borrow their Haggadah to help get your kids ready.

Happy Pesach! Do you have any favorite Passover books? I'd love to hear them.


The Monkey in the Middle

Posted by Susan on March 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Authors and IllustratorsBook EventsClassics
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Sit back. I'm going to tell you one of my favorite children's book publishing stories.

No, wait. I already did. Go and read it or this post won't make much sense. I'll wait here.

What took you so long?

Journey that Saved Curious George.jpgIsn't that an amazing story? (I mean the Curious George story, but I love all three of them.) It's been a favorite of mine for a long time, even before I read Louise Borden's wonderful book: The Journey That Saved Curious George.

I happened to be in Manhattan this past weekend and luckily stumbled across an extraordinary exhibit at The Jewish Museum that thoroughly documents the Rey's four month trip from France to the United States via Brazil. There are countless original sources including the journals that H.A. Rey meticulously recorded. There's the hand drawn wedding invitation and incredibly creative New Year's cards. There are the letters from various publishers. There are the videos of interviews with the Reys. But there's so much more than that.

You get to see the artwork.

How a Book Is Made.jpgCreating picture books is a very involved process and there are numerous steps that have to happen in order for you to hold the finished book in your hands. For some great children's picture books with details and illustrations of every step, see Eileen Christelow's What do Authors Do? and What do Illustrators Do? and Aliki's How a Book is Made.

Original picture book art is the actual illustration that's used to make the image you see in the book. It's magical stuff. No matter how well you know the book, the real artwork will always surprise you. It will be smaller or bigger than you expected. It will have many more or less colors than you expected. It will have colored pencils where you thought there was paint. It will have texture and fabric that you're not able to fully appreciate in the book. At the same time, the image is so familiar to you that it feels like an old friend.

The remarkable thing about this exhibition is that there are nearly eighty original works. That's right, almost eighty. Usually, if you're lucky, you'll get to see a few pieces at a time or maybe even ten. But with this exhibit we get to see so much more than that. We get to see our friend George in pictures you'll recognize immediately. And not just him. There's Katy Kangaroo, Pretzel, Spotty and Whiteblack the Penguin and many other delightful characters that the Reys created. What does it look like? Hop on over to the exhibition's main page to see a tantalizing sample.

Okay, hop back. What struck you the most? For me, it was the physical shape of the of the pictures... which is the most obvious in the picture of George swinging from the trees and eating bananas. I'm so used to seeing the white pristine background but in reality the pictures were cut out (much more than in that one image you saw) and glued on to the pages. It makes perfect sense but was so surprising to see nonetheless. George himself was fairly small suspended in the middle of a huge white space. Once I got over that, I wanted to spend all day looking at the artwork. It was so beautiful I really can't put it into words.

This exhibit showcases many treasures from the extensive archive of the Rey's papers at the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. Take a look at the H.A. and Margret Rey Digital Collection. It's fascinating.

Curious George Saves the Day:The Art of H.A. and Margret Rey is at the Jewish Museum in New York City through August 1, 2010. It's appropriate for all ages and completely accessible to kids. There's a comfy reading area filled with many of the Reys' books which are begging to be read aloud.

Percy Jackson cover artIf you can't make it to New York, the best substitute is The Journey That Saved Curious George which contains lots of the archival material found in the exhibit.

And keep your eyes open for picture book art. Ask around. Maybe your local library (particularly if it's a large, central, urban library) has a few on the wall of their children's room. Maybe you'll find a picture or two in a children's bookstore. Watch for exhibits that come through your city. Visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The artwork above that you're drooling over is for sale at the legendary Manhattan children's bookstore: Books of Wonder. It's all of the original cover art work for Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. The artist is John Rocco. There are also pictures you may not have seen before that were created for the deluxe edition of The Lightning Thief. You can see better pictures here and even order your own prints.

Whenever or wherever you find it, it will always be magic.


Library Tip: Check Out Your Books Early and Often

Posted by Susan on March 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM in LibrariesSeasonal Books
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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Did you visit your library this week to find a book for St. Patrick's Day? Did you find anything? I'm guessing that you didn't. Or if you did, it was an old battered book that was published many years ago.

St. Patrick's Day.jpgHow can I be so telepathic? Because at every single library, on every single holiday, the relevant books are all checked out by the actual date of the holiday. And this doesn't just go for holidays. If you go into my library today, you'll find that all the books for spring are checked out. Pretty soon, as caterpillars start crawling onto the sidewalks, every book about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly will be gone from our shelves.

Here's a tip: Never wait until the last minute to find seasonal books. Check them out a month before the season or event (even earlier than that is fine too). If you look at the Christmas books in November, you'll find all the newest and most popular books available for your perusal. If you wait until the middle of December, you'll find the dregs that other people decided no to check out.

I can certainly understand the desire not to spread out the holiday. However, most libraries lend books out for three weeks (with the option of renewal for another 3 weeks.) Many libraries let you renew twice, which means that if no one is waiting for the book, you can have it for up to nine weeks (over two months).

Don't forget to be considerate and remember that you're not the only one looking for books on that subject. Try not to take more than one or two holiday books so that there's enough for everyone else. (Unless, of course, you check out all the Passover books in September, when no one's looking for them). Also, as soon as you're done with a seasonal book, return it to the library so other people can check it out. For example, even though the St. Patrick's Day books got checked out already, we were able to find a couple that recently came back to give to the people who were looking for holiday books this week.

Where is the Green Sheep.jpgIf the library is completely out of the books you're looking for, be creative. A book like Mem Fox's beautifully crafted Where is the Green Sheep? works perfectly well. Or try one of Tomie dePaola's Irish folktales.

My library has the holiday books in the regular collection, but not every library has the shelf space to do that. If yours doesn't, ask the librarians where the books are when they're not on display. Many libraries keep their holiday books in their storytime rooms.

Have a lovely holiday.

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