It’s always hard to say goodbye, even if it is to friends that you’ve never met and only speak to every couple of weeks. Next Friday, I will start a position as CRRL’s Deputy Director. It will be a big change, but I am excited for new adventures! Many of you may know the wonderful Darcie Caswell as the Youth Services Department Head at our Salem Church Branch, and she has recently been named Youth Services Coordinator and is taking over the column in July. I know you will enjoy sharing books with her.
In the meantime, I’m going to share some of my all-time favorite titles. My mantra, when it comes to reading, is that there are too many books to read a title more than once. Luckily, some of my favorites have been made into terrific audios, and I have plenty of time in my car to listen and enjoy them again.
Carter and Sadie Kane are brother and sister, but since they barely get to see each other, it’s awkward every time they do. It’s been years since their mom’s tragic, mysterious death, and now 12-year-old Sadie lives with her grandparents in England and goes to private school while 14-year-old Carter travels the world with his dad, a famous Egyptologist.
Sadie’s a rebel, and Carter’s the grounded one, and each one thinks the other has it easier. But this winter visit is beyond awkward. It’s downright dangerous. The Kane family’s troubles are far from over, and Carter and Sadie will have to learn to rely on each other as their magical legacies are revealed.
Have you ever considered taking love advice from a cat? A cat who wears cool sneakers, perhaps? Seek no further because Kimberly & James Dean’s new installment in their “Pete the Cat” series includes tips from the cool cat himself!
Popular children’s author James Dean brings back his loveable and rocking cat Pete to celebrate a delightful Halloween in his new book, Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins! Using the popular children’s song “Five Little Pumpkins,” Dean takes Pete and his adoring fans on one purrrfect adaptation of the classic rhyme. Will Pete and the galloping gourds make it in time for Trick-or-Treating? Read to find out!
Summer is here, and with those long, hot days comes the warm-weather institution of the family road trip. Be your children in car seats or high school, an annual dog pile into the minivan can often signal the beginning of summer vacation. This year, avoid a family sing-along to the Frozen soundtrack* by checking out an all-ages-friendly audiobook that will keep everyone entertained.
"...that’s the fun of it to create from scratch, it’s to me, it’s creative in one sense of the word. I try to make exciting books for children and of course, I do them for myself too, I put everything I have into them."*
There was a stuffed bear in a department store who was missing a button, but a little girl loved him anyway. She didn’t want a perfect companion. She wanted Corduroy. Don Freeman’s stories about the plucky bear and his friend are still treasured and shared decades after they were written. A true classic, Corduroy can found in pretty much every library and book store with space set aside for young ones.
The Tales of Olga da Polga, by Michael Bond—creator of the Paddington Bear books, features a feisty, queenly, and imaginative guinea pig who leaves the dull life of an English pet shop to go live with her own “Sawdust People” in “a house with legs” in their garden. For another guinea pig, it would be just a sensible, comfortable life change, but Olga is not just another guinea pig.
Getting ready for back-to-school, but not ready to pack away the fun? Al Yankovic’s My New Teacher and Me! is as welcome for the last weeks of summer as an ice cream truck after a long, hot day at the pool. In this rollicking story, Mr. Booth’s strict rules have met their match in Billy, a bright-eyed boy who shows up for the first day of class with a wide-open imagination. Disapproving Mr. Booth spots the dirt on Billy’s shirt immediately! Billy quickly—and politely—tells him how that came to be:
“I was digging to China out in my backyard.
And I almost was there when—I hit something hard!
Well, I dug, and I dug, and I dug a bit more
And discovered the skull of a real dinosaur!
“And I would have cleaned up, sir, but hey, I’m no fool—
I just couldn’t be late on the first day of school!”
Bow-tied and sour, Mr. Booth says his tale sounds highly unlikely, but as Billy points out, “the awesome-est things in the world often are!”
When Mercer Mayer was a young artist looking for book illustration work, a potential employer suggested he give up and throw away his portfolio. Fortunately for the thousands of children who have enjoyed his many books, he did not give up. Indeed, he went on to create one of the first widely-published wordless books for children, A Boy, A Frog, and a Dog. That book and its successors were hugely popular.
Soon after that, Mayer tackled one of the biggest problems facing young children—how to cope with fears of the unknown. Rather than write pedantic, matter-of-fact, non-fiction children’s books, he turned the process of dealing with those fears into engaging stories from a child’s point of view: There’s a Nightmare in My Closet; There’s an Alligator under My Bed; and There’s Something in My Attic.