14 April 2018

3 Books about Thailand

It's the second day of Songkran in Thailand, a three-day water festival for Buddhists to celebrate the new year.

Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek
written by Minfong Ho, images by Holly Meade

Breath of the Dragon
written by Gail Giles, images by June Otani

Hello, Bumblebee Bat
written by Darrin Lunde, images by Patricia J. Wynne

12 April 2018

Beverly Cleary: An Appreciation

Sara and Ramona finally meeting
in Portland, Oregon.
photo by Flo Bright

I've spoken about my love for Ramona Quimby before, but since it's her creator's birthday, I'm going to talk about my love for Beverly Cleary.

That's right. It's Beverly Cleary's birthday! She's 102 years old today.

It's almost impossible to believe that the creator of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and so many other characters is still alive. Her books were such an integral part of my childhood, and they seemed like they were always there.

The first book of Beverly Cleary's I ever experienced was The Mouse and the Motorcycle. My second grade teacher read it aloud to the class. That, in and of itself, was kind of miraculous. I don't recall any other teacher reading a story aloud, especially over the course of several days.

But the story captivated me. I'm not usually a fan of talking animal stories -- at least not in novels -- but I adored Ralph S. Mouse and his little red motorcycle. Perhaps it was because I like toy cars myself. I wanted to find a little mouse (or a hamster or a gerbil or any tiny rodent) and put them in a toy car to drive. I still think that would be fun.

I read the other books about Ralph myself and enjoyed them, but then I met Ramona.

She was a delight. She got in trouble (like me). She was punished (like me). She had a temper (like me). She was so real that I honestly thought if I could get to Portland I would find her and we would be best friends.

Ribsy, another adored Beverly Cleary creation,
in Portland, Oregon.
photo by me
I read those books over and over and over. When I got Ramona Forever, we were on a vacation to Florida. That was the first hardcover book I ever bought. It was the first book I ever read where people lived in Alaska. It might even have been the first book I read that featured a wedding.

Ramona's World came out when I was in graduate school (to be a librarian like Beverly Cleary!). Did that stop from buying it and reading it in one sitting? Of course not! After classes were over for the day, I immediately went to the bookstore, drove home and devoured the story.

For Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday, her publisher had a huge birthday card for people to sign at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. I proudly signed my name and included my small hometown. I wanted her to know that even people from places she had never heard of had adored her stories.

Happy birthday, Beverly Cleary!

01 April 2018

26 Poetry Books

A Children's Treasury of Poems
images by Linda Bleck

A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry
written by Marjorie Maddox, images by Philip Huber

A Kick In the Head
edited by Paul B. Janeczko, images by Chris Raschka

A Maze Me: Poems for Girls
written by Naomi Shihab Nye, images by Terre Maher

A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food
written and illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin

A Poem of Her Own: Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today
edited by Catherine Clinton, images by Stephen Alcorn

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems
written by Deborah Ruddell, images by Joan Rankin

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme
written by J. Patrick Lewis, images by Alison Jay

A Wreath for Emmett Till
written by Marilyn Nelson, images by Philippe Lardy

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways
written by Avis Harley, images by Deborah Noyes

Alice Yazzie's Year
written by Ramona Maher, images by Shonto Begay, Navajo

All In a Day
written by Cynthia Rylant, images by Nikki McClure

All the Wild Wonders: Poems of Our Earth
edited by Wendy Cooling, images by Piet Grobler

Amazing Places: Poems
written by Lee Bennett Hopkins, images by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale

America at War
selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, images by Stephen Alcorn

America the Beautiful
written by Katharine Lee Bates, images by Wendell Minor

American History, Fresh Squeezed! 41 Thirst-for-Knowledge-Quenching Poems
written by Carol Diggory Shields, images by Richard Thompson

Ancient Voices
written by Kate Hovey, images by Murray Kimber

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures
written by Kwame Alexander, images by Joel Sartore

Animals Anonymous
written by Richard Michelson, images by Scott Fischer

Applesauce Weather
written by Helen Frost, images by Amy June Bates

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

Around the World in Eighty Poems
selected by James Berry, images by Katherine Lucas

Around the World on Eighty Legs (More or Less)
written by Amy Gibson, images by Daniel Salmieri

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems
written by Leslie Bulion, images by Leslie Evans

Awful Ogre Running Wild
written by Jack Prelutsky, images by Paul O. Zelinsky

30 March 2018

30 Books about Women's History

The Daring Miss Quimby
written by Suzanne George Whitaker, images by Catherine Stock

A Death-Struck Year
written by Makiia Lucier

A Girl Named Dan
written by Dandi Daley Mackall, images by Renée Graef

written by Julie Chibbaro

A Good Night for Freedom
written by Barbara Oleynik, images by Leonard Jenkins

Girl In Blue
written by Ann Rinaldi

Around America To Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
written by Mara Rockliff, images by Hadley Hooper

Hattie Big Sky
written by Kirby Larson

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman's Land Army of America
written by Erin Hagar, images by Jen Hill

Laura Secord: A Story of Courage
written by Janet Lunn, images by Maxwell Newhouse

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
written by Margarita Engle, images by Rafael López

written by Jacqueline Davies

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings
written by Deborah Hopkinson, images by Terry Widener

My Brigadista Year
written by Katherine Paterson

Louisa May & Mr. Thoreau's Flute
written by Julie Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki, images by Mary Azarian

Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
written by Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki

Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel
written by Leslie Connor, images by Mary Azarian

Searching for Silverheels
written by Jeannie Mobley

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
written by Carole Boston Weatherford, images by Kadir Nelson

written by Patricia McCormick

Pictures for Miss Josie
written by Sandra Belton, images by Benny Andrews

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
written by Avi

Ruby's Wish
written by Shirin Yim Bridges, images by Sophie Blackall

Touched by Fire
written by Irene N. Watts

She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!
written by Kathryn Lasky, images by David Catrow

Vengeance Road
written by Erin Bowman

Stagecoach Sal: Inspired by a True Tale
written by Deborah Hopkinson, images by Carson Ellis

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

The Paint Box
written Maxine Trottier, images by Stella East

22 March 2018

Caldecott Medal Favorites

Today is Randolph Caldecott's birthday, so here are some of my favorite Caldecott books. For this list, I've only included the winning books, not the honors.

This Is Not My Hat
written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
2013 winner

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
written and illustrated by Brian Selznick
2008 winner

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
written and illustrated by Simms Taback
2000 winner

Snowflake Bentley
written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, images by Mary Azarian
1999 winner

written and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
1998 winner

Saint George and the Dragon
retold by Margaret Hodges, images by Trina Schart Hyman
1985 winner

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
retold by Verna Aardema, images by Leo and Diane Dillon
1976 winner

A Story A Story
retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley
1971 winner

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
written and illustrated by William Steig
1970 winner

Where the Wild Things Are
written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
1964 winner

The Snowy Day
written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
1963 winner

Once a Mouse ...
retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
1962 winner

Make Way for Ducklings
written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey
1942 winner

17 March 2018

17 Books about Ireland

It's St. Patrick's Day! To help you discover a bit more about Ireland than today's celebrations, here are some books to enjoy.

A Swift Pure Cry
by Siobhan Dowd

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato
written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

The Long March: The True Story of the Choctaw Indians' Gift to the Irish During the Potato Famine
written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Walking to School
written by Eve Bunting, images by Michael Dooling

Across a Dark and Wild Sea
written and illustrated by Don Brown

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story
written by Bryce Milligan, images by Helen Cann

Kate Culhane, A Ghost Story
written and illustated by Michael Hague

Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara
written by Elvira Woodruff, images by Adam Rex

The Easter Rising
written by Richard Killeen

The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story About St. Patrick
written by Sheila MacGill-Callahan, images by Will Hillenbrand

The Leprechaun's Gold
written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, images by Henry Cole

The Meanwhile Adventures
written by Roddy Doyle, images by Brian Ajhar

The Pirate Queen
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The Wishing of Biddy Malone
written by Joy Cowley, images by Christopher Denise

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka
written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Bog Child
written by Siobhan Dowd

13 March 2018

Leo and Diane Dillon: An Appreciation

In honor of Diane Dillon's birthday, I believe an appreciation of this couple's work is in order.

They won two Caldecott medals, one Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and numerous honors, and been runners-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Their body of work is breathtaking.

I can't remember when I first saw their artwork -- probably when Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears was read on Reading Rainbow. But I didn't truly appreciate their work until I became a librarian and saw the full range of their gifts.

I grew up in a small town with a small school library. I honestly can't tell you if that library owned any books that were illustrated by the Dillons. With such a small school library, my mother did her best to keep me up to my ears in new and classic children's books, but some works passed her by as well.

Nevertheless, I did find their work, and I am so glad I did.

The images they created glow, not only with light and warmth, but with humanity and dignity and beauty. The skills they possess!

In the book To Every Thing There Is a Season: Verses from Ecclesiastes, the Dillons use traditional artistic styles from around the world as inspiration. There are spreads inspired by Ancient Egypt, Thailand, the Middle East, and Ancient Mexico, among others. Each turn of the page shows different skills. It's gorgeous work.

Sadly, Leo Dillon passed away in 2012. However, Diane Dillon recently released a new picture book that looks as glorious as ever. I'm looking forward to reading I Can Be Anything! Don't Tell Me I Can't and losing myself in the images.

To see more of their artwork, visit The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon.

06 March 2018

6 Books About Texas History

Today is the 182nd anniversary of the Fall of the Alamo. Here are some books about Texas history.

Inside the Alamo
written by Jim Murphy

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
written by Kathi Appelt, images by Joy Fisher Hein

We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca
written by Stuart Waldman, images by Tom McNeely

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

Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrickson Zaharias
written by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

Born and Bred in the Great Depression
written by Jonah Winter, images by Kimberly Root

28 February 2018

30 Books about African Americans

Callie Ann and Mistah Bear
written by Robert D. San Souci, images by Don Daily

Come On, Rain!
written by Karen Hesse, images by Jon J. Muth

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
written by Derrick Barnes, images by Gordon C. James

Dancing In the Wings
written by Debbie Allen, images by Kadir Nelson

David Gets His Drum
written by David (Panama) Francis and Bob Reiser, images by Eric Velasquez

Don't Call Me Grandma
written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, images by Elizabeth Zunon

Drumbeat In Our Feet
written by Patricia A. Keeler and Julio T. Leitão, images by Patricia A. Keeler

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite
written by Anna Harwell Celenza, images by Don Tate

Earth Mother
written by Ellen Jackson, images by Leo and Diane Dillon

Emma and Julia Love Ballet
written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock

Tea Cakes for Tosh
written by Kelly Starling Lyons, images by E.B. Lewis

Ten Nine Eight
written and illustrated by Molly Bang

The Bake Shop Ghost
written by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, images by Marjorie Priceman

The Gospel Cinderella
written by Joyce Carol Oates, images by David Diaz

The Hula-Hoopin' Queen
written by Thelma Lynne Godin, images by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The New Small Person
written and illustrated by Lauren Child

The Six Fools
written by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Joyce Carol Oates, images by Ann Tanksley

This Jazz Man
written by Karen Ehrhardt, images by R.G. Roth

Thunder Rose
written by Jerdine Nolen, images by Kadir Nelson

Tickle, Tickle
written by Dakari Hru, images by Ken Wilson-Max

Two Old Potatoes and Me
written by John Coy, images by Carolyn Fisher

Violet's Music
written by Angela Johnson, images by Laura Huliska-Beith

Which Puppy?
written by Kate Feiffer, images by Jules Feiffer

written by Julia Dennos, images by E.B. Goodale

Yesterday I Had the Blues
written by Jeron Ashford Frame, images by R. Gregory Christie

You and Me and Home Sweet Home
written by George Ella Lyon, images by Stephanie Anderson

Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug
written by Evan Kuhlman, images by Chuck Groenink

Have You Seen Elephant?
written and illustrated by David Barrow

I Won a What?
written by Audrey Vernick, images by Robert Neubecker

A Young Dancer: The Life of an Ailey Student
written by Valerie Gladstone, images by José Ivey

21 February 2018

35 Years Later

Papaw at his 40th wedding anniversary.
Photographer unknown
Thirty-five years ago today, the world lost a good man -- Papaw, my grandfather.

I've written about my grandmother, Nana, and her final days, but Papaw died when I was six years old. Long before blogs. Long before hybrid cars. Long before smart phones and tablets. Long before so many things.

Thirty-five years is a long time. It's a long time to miss someone. It's a long time to cling to memories. And it's a long time for memories to fade.

For years, I had a cassette tape that had Papaw's voice on it. Sadly, I've lost that tape somewhere along the way. I don't really remember his voice anymore. I recall the voice on the tape being somewhat deep, but I no longer know if that's true.

Here's what I do remember about Papaw.

He read to me almost every night. I know he read more books than these, but I especially remember him reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss; Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman; and The Astrosmurf by Peyo. I knew Green Eggs and Ham so well that I could tell Papaw when he messed up reading.

Papaw hated reading The Astrosmurf. It's a comic book, so the text is in bubbles. He had a hard time with those. But I must have thought he was wonderful because I wanted him to read that book over and over (or maybe I knew he hated it and wanted to torture him).

Nana knew he couldn't stand reading The Astrosmurf and every so often, she would "lose" the book. Then a few weeks later, while she was cleaning or something, she would "find" it. "Why don't you ask Papaw to read this to you tonight?" I would delightedly hand him the beloved book, and he would shoot Nana the dirtiest look he could muster, knowing she was responsible. Nana would only smile.

Papaw used to wrap me in a blanket on cold mornings before school and carry me over to Mom's house (I usually stayed at Nana's and Papaw's overnight). Then he would start Mom's truck for us, so it would be warm when we left. Once I moved to Indiana, I wished he were here to do this all again, although I wouldn't have needed to be carried.

While Mom took me to school, I rode the bus home when I was in kindergarten. Papaw met me at the end of the driveway in his golf cart or the truck (weather dependent) every day and drove me back to the house.

Nana, Papaw and me.
Photographer unknown
Papaw drank milk. Once, he was sitting in his chair with his supper on the TV tray in front of him and a big glass of milk beside his plate. Being about five at the time, I grabbed the glass and took a swig. Unfortunately for me, it was buttermilk. I don't remember if I kept that drink down or spit it back in Papaw's glass, but every time I saw him with a glass of milk after that, I would ask if it was "good milk" or "bad milk."

Papaw loved working in his garden. We have some old home movies where I'm following in his footsteps while he's tilling the earth. I remember doing that more than once. I thought he couldn't see me because I was directly behind him and wanted to scare him when he turned off the tiller. I do not remember whether or not I was ever successful.

On the back of this photo, Nana wrote "the day before
he left us."
Photographer unknown
When he got sick and was in the hospital, I had special permission to visit him in his room. This was back when children under the age of twelve weren't allowed to visit patients. I don't know why twelve was chosen as the magic age, but I was only six. As I understand it, Mom and/or Nana spoke with the staff, and I was able to visit Papaw any time I was there. Maybe Papaw did this; I don't know.

It seems like we went to see him in the hospital every day after school. I was in first grade, and Mom would pick me up. We would drive an hour to the hospital in Victoria and stay there for a while before coming home. Nana was already there.

I know that he explained the cancer to me, but I don't recall the words he used. I know he told me he was going to die and what that meant, but I don't remember how he did that either. I do remember that he told me not to cry when he died.

When that happened, I honored that request.

19 February 2018

19 Books About Presidents

It's Presidents Day, and here are some books featuring those who were -- and those who wished to be -- President.

A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull
written by Kathleen Krull, images by Jane Dyer

All-American Girl
written by Meg Cabot

Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis
written by James L. Swanson

Camping With the President
written by Ginger Wadsworth, images by Karen Dugan

Dear Mr. Washington
written by Lynn Cullen, images by Nancy Carpenter

Diana's White House Garden
written by Elisa Carbone, images by Jen Hill

Don't Know Much About the Presidents
written by Kenneth C. Davis, images by Pedro Martin

Duck for President
written by Doreen Cronin, images by Betsy Lewin

FDR's Alphabet Soup: New Deal America, 1932-1939
written by Tonya Bolden

Madam President
written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Master George's People: George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation
written by Marfe Ferguson Delano, images by Lori Epstein

President Squid
written by Aaron Reynolds, images by Sara Varon

President Taft Is Stuck In the Bath
written by Mac Barnett, images by Chris Van Dusen

The Revolutionary John Adams
written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
written by Barb Rosenstock, images by John O'Brien

Which Puppy?
written by Kate Feiffer, images by Jules Feiffer

A Picture Book of Dolley and James Madison
written by David A. Adler & Michael S. Adler, images by Ronald Himler

Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye
written by Samantha Seiple

Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt
written and illustrated by Don Brown

13 February 2018

13 Books About Religion

All God's Critters
written by Bill Staines, images by Kadir Nelson

The Animals and the Ark
written by Karla Kuskin, images by Michael Grejniec

Anne Hutchinson's Way
written by Jeannine Atkins, images by Michael Dooling

Beautiful Moon: A Child's Prayer
written by Tonya Bolden, images by Eric Velasquez

The Beautiful World That God Made
written by Rhonda Gowler Greene, images by Anne Wilson

The Best Kind of Gift
written by Kathi Appelt, images by Paul Brett Johnson

The Flame Tree
written by Richard Lewis

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

Changing Woman and Her Sisters
written by Katrin Hyman Tchana, images by Trina Schart Hyman

written by Amy Christine Parker

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
written by Deborah Heiligman

Dancing the Ring Shout!
written by Kim L. Siegelson, images by Lisa Cohen

Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World
written by Alexis York Lombard, images by Alireza Sadeghian

06 February 2018

6 Books About Friends

Today is my dearest friend's birthday, and to celebrate, here are some books about friends.

A Handful of Stars
written by Cynthia Lord

Hello, My Name Is Ruby
written by Philip C. Stead

Best Friends At School: A Hunter and Stripe Story
written by Laura Malone Elliott, images by Lynn Munsinger

I Kill the Mockingbird
written by Paul Acampora

Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record
written by Annie Barrows, images by Sophie Blackall

Jasper & Joop
written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

02 February 2018

2 Books About Shadows

It's Groundhog Day! I, for one, am hoping that critter doesn't see his shadow.

Yeti, Turn Out the Light!
written by Greg Long and Chris Edmundson, images by Wednesday Kirwan

written by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Harvey Stevenson