Children's Book Columns
Children’s books are never too far from the minds of children’s librarians. On a recent hiking trip to the North Carolina mountains, a phrase from a children’s verse got stuck in my head: “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, it’s a beautiful day, we’re not scared!” Maybe our bear bells scared them away, but the black bears that populate the coves and ridges of the Nantahala National Forest never showed themselves to our group (thank goodness).
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Most parents who’ve raised children in the last fifty years are familiar with Brown’s most enduring work, “Goodnight, Moon.” Written in hypnotic rhyme and illustrated in warm reds and greens by Clement Hurd, the book did not make a splash on first publication in 1947, selling a respectable but modest 6,000 copies that fall. But the book gradually found an audience, and by now total sales reportedly top 11 million copies.
Since librarians are always scrambling to keep up with the latest books, re-reading is a pleasure we rarely enjoy. But this spring sees the release of the newest title by Megan Whalen Turner in a series whose first book appeared in 1996. Reason enough to start again at the beginning!
The arrival of spring brings thoughts of gardens, poetry and spring training. Kevin Henkes’ new picture book, “My Garden,” will get your preschoolers in just the right mood for digging in the dirt. The young narrator helps her mother in the garden, shooing away the rabbits, watering and weeding. “But if I had a garden…” the little girl muses and, before you know it, she has imagined a special garden all her own.
From board books to gorgeously illustrated picture books, there are plenty of ways to share the upcoming holidays with young readers. Tomie DePaola’s “My First Passover” is simple enough to read with your toddlers.
When people talk about brackets, I think bookshelves. Sure, I’ve heard about March madness and basketball, but up till now I haven’t paid much attention.
Then I discovered School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books, complete with celebrity judges, a Big Kahuna Round and, yes, brackets. Now you’re talking my language!
St. Patrick's Day may have passed, but you can continue to celebrate at home by stocking up on Irish stories and lore from the library. Edna Barth’s “Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs” provides quirky facts and legends associated with the holiday. Did you know that St. Patrick was not Irish himself but was born in Scotland? Or that Americans have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since 1737? (That year’s gala was held in Boston, of course.) Along with fascinating details about Irish harps, Irish poetry and St. Patrick’s Day parades, Barth weaves in much of the history of Ireland for readers nine and up.