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

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

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

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 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
He could paint all the nails
any color He wanted,
then say,
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

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

12 May 2018

12 Books about Mothers

Hooray for Fish!
written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins

Her Mother's Face
written by Roddy Doyle, images by Freya Blackwood

Horse In the Pigpen
written by Linda Williams, images by Megan Lloyd

How Do You Know?
written by Deborah W. Trotter, images by Julie Downing

Hula Lullaby
written and illustrated by Erin Eitter Kono

I Am a Witch's Cat
written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster

I Wanna Iguana
written by Karen Kaufman Orloff, images by David Catrow

I Want My Mommy!
written by Tracey Corderoy, images by Alison Edgson

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

Jungle Song
written by Miriam Moss, images by Adrienne Kennaway

Just Right
written and illustrated by Miriam Monnier

Just What Mama Needs
written by Sharlee Glenn, images by Amiko Hirao

05 May 2018

5 Books about Kentucky

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

The Keeper of the Doves
written by Betsy Byars

Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song
written by George Ella Lyon, images by Christopher Cardinale

That Book Woman
written by Heather Henson, images by David Small

D Is for Derby: A Kentucky Derby Alphabet
written by Helen L. Wilbur, images by Jaime Corum

01 May 2018

30 Books about Asian Pacific American Heritage

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood
written by Varsha Bajaj

 How Maui Slowed the Sun
written by Suelyn Ching Tune, images by Robin Yoko Burningham

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story
written by Paula Yoo, images by Lin Wang

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow / Sabaku Ni Saita Himawari
written by Amy Lee-Tai, images by Felicia Hoshino

The Firekeeper's Son
written by Linda Sue Park, images by Julie Downing

The Biggest Soap
written by Carole Lexa Schaefer, images by Stacey Dressen-McQueen

In a Village By the Sea
written by Muon Van, images by April Chu

My Night In the Planetarium: A True Story About a Child, a Play, and the Art of Resistance
written and illustrated by Innosanto Nagara

Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale
written by Lee Wardlaw, images by Felipe Dvalos

The Lost Lake
written and illustrated by Allen Say

The Closet Ghosts
written by Uma Krishnaswami, images by Shiraaz Bhabha

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales
written by Ying Chang Compestine, images by Coleman Polhemus

Sumi's First Day of School Ever
written by Soyung Pak, images by Joung Un Kim

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
written by Russell Freedman

The Man and the Fox
written by Idries Shah, images by Sally Mallam

Apple Pie 4th of July
written by Janet S. Wong, images by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

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

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
written by Natasha Yim, images by Grace Zong

Tam and Cam
written by Minh Quoc, images by Mai Long

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
written by Chieri Uegaki, images by Qin Leng

Bindi Babes
written by Narinder Dhami

written and illustrated by Jason Chin

A Different Pond
written by Bao Phi, images by Thi Bui

Go to Sleep, Gecko! A Balinese Folktale
written by Margaret Read MacDonald, images by Geraldo Valerio

Malala's Magic Pencil
written by Malala Yousafzai, images by Kerascoët

Duck for Turkey Day
written by Jacqueline Jules, images by Kathryn Mitter

Ghosts for Breakfast
written by Stanley Todd Terasaki, images by Shelly Shinjo

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

Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin
written by Michelle Lord, images by Felicia Hoshino

King for a Day
written by Rukhsana Khan, images by Christiane Krömer

28 April 2018

4 Books by Amy Hest

Happy birthday, Amy Hest!

Mr. George Baker
written by Amy Hest, images by Jon J. Muth

The Friday Nights of Nana
written by Amy Hest, images by Claire A. Nivola

Don't You Feel Well, Sam?
written by Amy Hest, images by Anita Jeram

 My Old Pal Oscar
written by Amy Hest, images by Amy Bates

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