08 October 2018

8 Books about Grandfathers

Can You Hear the Sea?
written by Judy Cumberbatch, images by Ken Wilson-Max

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
written by Roald Dahl, images by Quentin Blake

Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box
written by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein, images by James E. Ransome

Grandfather Gandhi
written by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus, images by Evan Turk

Grandfather's Gold Watch
written and illustrated by Louise Garff Hubbard

Grandfather's Journey
written and illustrated by Allen Say

Grandpa and Me On Tu B'Shevat
written by Marji E. Gold-Vukson, images by Leslie Evans

Grandpa's Girls
written by Nicola I. Campbell, images by Kim Lafave

30 September 2018

30 Books About Mothers

Barn Dance!
written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins

Mom, There's a Bear at the Door
written by Sabine Lipan, images by Manuela Olten

Kyle Goes Alone
written by Jan Thornhill, images by Ashley Barron

Mother to Tigers
written by George Ella Lyon, images by Peter Catalanotto

Mama's Little Duckling
written by Marjorie Blain Parker, images by Mike Wohnoutka

Baya, Baya, Lulla-by-a
written by Megan McDonald, images by Vera Rosenberry

Little One
written and illustrated by Jo Weaver

Moo Moo, Brown Cow
written by Jakki Wood, images by Rog Bonner

Bebé Goes to the Beach
written by Susan Middleton Elya, images by Steven Salerno

Mama's Saris
written by Pooja Makhijani, images by Elena Gomez

Most Loved In All the World
written by Tonya Cherie Hegamin, images by Cozbi Cabrera

Little Chicken's Big Day
written by Jerry Davis, images by Katie Davis

Bedtime for Mommy
written by Amy Krause Rosenthal, images by LeUyen Pham

Mother Bruce
written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins

Little Owl's Orange Scarf
written and illustrated by Tatyana Feeney

Big Bad Bunny
written by Franny Billingsley, images by G. Brian Karas

Little Diva
written by LaChanze, images by Brian Pinkney

Miles From Ordinary
written by Carol Lynch Williams

Big Momma Makes the World
written by Phyllis Root, images by Helen Oxenbury

Lola At the Library
written by Anna McQuinn, images by Rosalind Beardshaw

Birdie's Big-Girl Shoes
written and illustrated by Sujean Rim

Little Owl Lost
written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

Mama, I'll Give You the World
written by Roni Schotter, images by Susan Saelig Gallagher

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies
written by Cokie Roberts, images by Diane Goode

My New Mom & Me
written and illustrated by Renata Galindo

Giddy-up Buckaroos!
written by Shanda Trent, images by Tom Knight

My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life
written by Kate Feiffer, images by Diane Goode

Little Fish Lost
written by Nancy Van Laan, images by Jane Conteh-Morgan

Molly's Family
written by Nancy Garden, images by Sharon Wooding

My Mother's Sari
written by Sandhya Rao, images by Nina Sabnani

28 September 2018

My Grandmother’s #MeToo Trauma

My grandmother in the 1940s or 1950s.
photographer unknown
This is a hard post for me to write. I struggled about whether or not I should even write this, but I think I should.

With all the talk the past year or so about sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, I've been thinking a great deal. The discussions haven't brought up any trauma for me. Like every woman, I've been subjected to harassment. This is not to deny that those injustices should be ignored but merely to state that I am okay.

This post isn't about me.

This is about my grandmother.

She passed in 2011, and I miss her every day. About six or seven months before she passed, she entrusted me with a secret.

She had been molested and raped as a child and teen.

She didn't tell me the gory details, and I didn't ask. She didn't tell me names, though I have no doubt she remembered them. Suffice it to say, she knew her attackers.

Even she wasn't sure if everything that had been done to her "counted" as something wrong. She asked me that when talking about the man who took her into a room as a child and did things to her. "Now, isn't that wrong?"

I told her yes, it was. I said that with absolute conviction because it is true.
My grandmother in the mid-1980s
in San Antonio.
photo by my mother

I don't know how I kept from crying when she told me that. I'm crying typing this right now.

The point I want to make here is not to name the men who hurt my grandmother; I don't know their names. The point is not to damage the way people remember my grandmother; they have their own memories of her to recall.

The point is that that trauma lived with my grandmother for the rest of her life.

She lacked confidence in herself. She considered herself “stupid” (her word, not mine).

These things I knew long before I knew about her assaults. I always thought they were a result of bullying behavior by siblings or the fact that she had to quit school in sixth grade. And I'm sure that's part of it, too.

But it all boils down to the shame she lived with every day for most of her life.

My grandmother and grandfather at their
40th wedding anniversary.
photographer unknown
As far as I know, the only person she told was her husband.

People who have been assaulted sexually are forced to deal with that shame and trauma every day. Some are able to talk about their experiences almost immediately, and some are not. Some are lucky enough to see their attackers serve time in prison. Most are not.

The revelations and news about sexual offenders that has come out over the past years has been infuriating, heartbreaking and depressing. I do not know how my grandmother would have responded to all of these revelations. Would they have brought back painful memories? Would she have told me more details? Would she have reached out to someone for help?

I like to think she would appreciate me writing this post for her as a way to exorcise some of her demons. I hope that's true.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted and needs help, please contact RAINN.

You can also donate to RAINN.

13 September 2018

4 Books About Vermont

From Dawn Till Dusk
written by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, images by Mary Azarian

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill
written by Megan Frazer Blakemore

The Two Brothers
written by William Jaspersohn, images by Michael A. Donato

Tricking the Tallyman
written by Jacqueline Davies, images by S.D. Schindler

08 September 2018

Jon Scieszka: An Appreciation

What can I say about Jon Scieszka that hasn't already been said?

I got to meet him once when I was helping with local arrangements for the Texas Library Association's annual conference. He was going to assist with the emcee duties for the Book Cart Drill Team Competition, and we were reviewing the way the event would go.

He was such fun!

There are people you meet and you instantly feel like you could be friends with this person forever. Jon Scieszka is like that. I don't remember if we were formally introduced or not. In my memory, he just showed up and joined this group of Texas librarians like he had been there for years.

I suppose, in a way, he had.

Librarians have rock star authors that we love for any number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons we love certain authors is that they love libraries and reading, too. Jon Scieszka is one of those authors. Like librarians, he knows there's a story out there for every reader--especially so-called "reluctant" boy readers. It's one of the reasons he started Guys Read.

Ultimately, though, his books are funny and customers love them. There doesn't need to be anything more than that. But the fact that there is? That's what makes Jon Scieszka a rock star.

03 September 2018

12 Books About Working #resist

A Handful of Stars
written by Cynthia Lord

A Visit to the Gravesens' Farm
written by Alice K. Flanagan, images by Christine Osinski

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
written by Michelle Markel, images by Melissa Sweet

Daisy Saves the Day
written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
written by Deborah Blumenthal, images by Laura Freeman

Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman's Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights
written by Mary Cronk Farrell

First Day In Grapes
written by L. King Pérez, images by Robert Casilla

Harvesting Hope: The Story of César Chávez
written by Kathleen Krull, images by Yuyi Morales

Ice! The Amazing History of the Ice Business
written by Laurence Pringle

Kid Blink Beats The World
written and illustrated by Don Brown

Mama's Coming Home
written by Kate Banks, images by Tomek Bogacki

Night Shift
written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland

01 September 2018

9 Books by Jim Arnosky

Happy birthday, Jim Arnosky!

Coyote Raid in Cactus Canyon
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Gobble It Up! A Fun Song About Eating!
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Turtle In the Sea
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Hidden Wildlife: How Animals Hide in Plain Sight
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Crocodile Safari
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Wild Ponies
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

Rattlesnake Dance
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

At This Very Moment
written and illustrated by Jim Arnsoksy

25 August 2018

8 Books from Lane Smith

Happy birthday, Lane Smith!

Glasses: Who Needs 'Em?
written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Science Verse
written by Jon Scieszka, images by Lane Smith

John, Paul, George & Ben
written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Big Plans
written by Bob Shea, images by Lane Smith

Madam President
written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Lulu and the Brontosaurus
written by Judith Viorst, images by Lane Smith

Pinocchio, the Boy or, Incognito in Collodi
written and illustrated by Lane Smith

The Happy Hocky Family!
written and illustrated by Lane Smith


13 August 2018

13 Books About Japan

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
written by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi, images by Toshikado Hajiri

Erika-san
written and illustrated by Allen Say

Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog
written by Pamela S. Turner, images by Yan Nascimbene

How My Parents Learned to Eat
written by Ina R. Friedman, images by Allen Say

Kenta and the Big Wave
written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi

Little Kunoichi, the Ninja Girl
written and illustrated by Sanae Ishida

One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting In a Japanese Garden
written by Celeste Davidson Mannis, images by Susan Hartung

Suki's Kimono
written by Chieri Uegaki, images by Stephanie Jorisch

Sumo Mouse
written and illustrated by David Wisniewski

Tea With Milk
written and illustrated by Allen Say

The Night of the Fireflies
written by Karen B. Winnick, images by Yoriko Ito

The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story
written by Sandra Moore, images by Kazumi Wilds

The Silver Charm: A Folktale from Japan
written by Robert D. San Souci, images by Yoriko Ito

05 August 2018

5 Historical Romance Stories

A Countess Below Stairs
written by Eva Ibbotson

Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love
written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Keturah and Lord Death
written by Martine Leavitt

Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-age Cinderella
written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Faithful
written by Janet Fox

26 July 2018

Recently Read Favorites

A Weird and Wild Beauty: The Story of Yellowstone, the World's First National Park
written by Erin Peabody

Woodpecker Wants a Waffle
written and illustrated by Steve Breen

Don't Blink!
written and illustrated by Tom Booth

Grumpy Monkey
written by Suzanne Lang, images by Max Lang

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur
written by Cirocco Dunlap, images by Greg Pizzoli

A Round of Robins
written by Katie Hesterman, images by Sergio Ruzzier

Hidden Wildlife: How Animals Hide in Plain Sight
written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky

Full of Fall
written and illustrated by April Pulley Sayre

There's Someone Inside Your House
written by Stephanie Perkins

Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War
written by Debbie Levy, images by Gilbert Ford

Creekfinding: A True Story
written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, images by Claudia McGehee

Wolf Island
written by Nicholas Read, images by Ian McAllister

The Quilts of Gee's Bend
written by Susan Goldman Rubin

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem
written by Patricia Newman

What Milly Did: The Remarkable Pioneer of Plastics Recycling
written by Elise Moser, images by Scot Ritchie

Truly Devious
written by Maureen Johnson

Flowers for Sarajevo
written by John McCutcheon, images by Kristy Caldwell

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
written and illustrated by Alex T. Smith

The Princess and the Warrior
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot
written by Matthew Clark Smith, images by Matt Tavares

Rainbow Weaver / Tejedora del arcoíris
written by Linda Elovitz Marshall, images by Elisa Chavarri

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights
written by Kate Hannigan, images by Alison Jay

Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

My Favorite Pets by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski's Class
written by Jeanne Birdsall, images by Harry Bliss

I Have a Balloon
written by Ariel Bernstein, images by Scott Magoon

The Lumberjack's Beard
written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie

11 July 2018

Patricia Polacco: An Appreciation

Patricia Polacco is another author I was introduced to as an adult. The first book of hers I read was Thank You, Mr. Falker, which I read in graduate school. It is a beautiful story about a wonderful teacher who recognizes the troubles young Trisha is having in his fifth grade classroom and teaches her to read.

I cried when I read it. I cry when I read almost any Polacco book. The one that makes me cry the most is Pink and Say.

If you haven't read Pink and Say, do yourself a favor. Find a copy of the book, and then find a private space. Bring Kleenex! It takes place during the Civil War, but it's about so much more than that. It's a heartbreaking friendship story, it's another tale about learning to read, and it's a powerful testament to stories and the impacts they have on people's lives.

Many of Polacco's stories are like that. They are stories from her life or ones that have been passed down through her family. Every time I read one I am struck by her life and family and all the stories they have lived. Her books make me think about my own family stories.

How would I write a book about some of the tales I've heard from my family? How would you?

04 July 2018

4 Books About the American Revolution

Happy Independence Day!

They Called Her Molly Pitcher
written by Anne Rockwell, images by Cynthia von Butler

Thomas Paine, Crusader for Liberty: How One Man's Ideas Helped Form a New Nation
written by Albert Marrin

Washington at Valley Forge
written by Russell Freedman

Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary
written by Martha Brockenbrough

01 July 2018

7 Books by Emily Arnold McCully

Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone...While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Squirrel and John Muir
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The Battle for St. Michaels
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The Bobbin Girl
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington's Slave Finds Freedom
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

19 June 2018

19 Books about Slavery #resist

Because it's Juneteenth, I thought it appropriate to list some books about slavery so we remember the horrors of that practice.

My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth
written by Ann Turner, images by James Ransome

Night Boat to Freedom
written by Margot Theis Raven, images by E.B. Lewis

Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom
written by Steven Sellers Lapham & Eugene Walton, images by R. Gregory Christie

Phillis's Big Test
written by Catherine Clinton, images by Sean Qualls

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
written and illustrated by Don Tate

Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes
written by Mary Garrison

Stolen Into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northrup, Free Black Man
written by Judith & Dennis Fradin

The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft
written by Cathy Moore, images by Mary O'Keefe Young

The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington's Slave Finds Freedom
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Brick by Brick
written by Charles R. Smith, Jr., images by Floyd Cooper

Alec's Primer
written by Mildren Pitts Walter, images by Larry Johnson

American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
written by Laurence Pringle, images by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu

Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass
written by Doreen Rappaport, images by London Ladd

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
written by Cynthia Grady, images by Michele Wood

I Want To Be Free
written by Joseph Slate, images by E.B. Lewis

Lift Your Light Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop, Slave-Explorer
written by Heather Henson, images by Bryan Collier

Light In the Darkness: A Story About How Slaves Learned in Secret
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, images by James E. Ransome

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
written by Angela Johnson, images by E.B. Lewis

16 June 2018

6 Books about Alaska

Akiak
written and illustrated by Robert J. Blake

Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights
written by Debbie S. Miller, images by Jon Van Zyle

Arctic Thaw: The People of the Whale in a Changing Climate
written by Peter Lourie

I Would Tuck You In
written by Sarah Asper-Smith, images by Mitchell Watley

Kumak's House: A Tale of the Far North
written and illustrated by Michael Bania

My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes: An Almost-True Alaskan Adventure
written by Erin McKittrick, images by Valisa Higman

06 June 2018

Cynthia Rylant: An Appreciation

I was first introduced to Cynthia Rylant by a dear friend of mine. She was an elementary teacher and lent me a number of her personal children's books to read, basically re-introducing me to a world of literature that I had missed during my teen and college years.

She placed Missing May in my hands and told me to read it. It was a paperback with that familiar gold Newbery medal on the cover, and it was thin. I probably read it during one lunch break at my summer job.

What a stunning little book! In so few pages, Rylant describes a girl who has lost many people in her life but doesn't let that stop her from forming a new family and learning to live with those losses. It is the perfect book for a child to read who has lost a loved one. It reassures children that it is okay to miss someone but also encourages them not to wallow in that grief. It's one of the most realistic depictions of a child recovering from a loved one's death that I've ever read.

I've since read many other books by Rylant, and each one is a gem. I'm especially fond of her poetry book God Went to Beauty School. It's full of poems about God celebrating what we would consider mundane pleasures in life and finding the absolute beauty, the true awesomeness of life. Take this segment from the title poem:
He got into nails, of course,
because He'd always loved
hands—
hands were some of the best things
He'd ever done
and this way He could just
hold one in His
and admire those delicate
bones just above the knuckles,
delicate as birds' wings,
and after He'd done that
awhile,
He could paint all the nails
any color He wanted,
then say,
"Beautiful,"
and mean it.
Isn't that wonderful? I adore Cynthia Rylant's work. Take some time and enjoy her work for yourself.

15 May 2018

15 Books about Being Muslim #resist

Deep In the Sahara
written by Kelly Cunnane, images by Hoda Hadadi

Going to Mecca
written by Na'ima B. Robert, images by Valentina Cavallini

Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story
written by Reem Faruqi, images by Lea Lyon

Muhammad
written and illustrated by Demi

My Name Is Bilal
written by Asma Mobin-Uddin, images by Barbara Kiwak

My Name Was Hussein
written by Hristo Kyuchukov, images by Allan Eitzen

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story
written by Hena Khan, images by Julie Paschkis

Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam
written and illustrated by Diane Stanley

The Most Magnificent Mosque
written by Ann Jungman, images by Shelley Fowles

One Green Apple
written by Eve Bunting, images by Ted Lewin

Mommy's Khimar
written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, images by Ebony Glenn

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust
written by Karen Gray Ruelle, images by Deborah Durland DeSaix

Amina's Voice
written by Hena Khan

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister
written by Amélie Sarn

Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter
written by Mark Gonzales, images by Mehrdokt Amini