Children's Book Columns
If you find yourself in
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.
What made Jay Leno crave an audience? What lesson did Steve Forbes learn early and never forget? What influenced Steve Wozniak?
Children’s literature specialist Anita Silvey conducted interviews with these three and over 100 other people in the arts, business, and sciences to discover what inspired and influenced them as children. The result is her new book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book, Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life.”
Some books seem to fly under the radar. They don’t garner the big awards or make the bestseller lists, they’re just quietly checked out of libraries over and over again. One of my new favorites in this category is “The Thumb in the Box” by Ken Roberts.
It begins, “This is a story about a fire truck being driven into the ocean and two people taking off their thumbs. Don’t worry, though. Nobody gets hurt.” No self-respecting third grade audience will let you stop reading after that!
The gold medals get all the attention at the Olympics, but winners of the silver and bronze medals are proud, too. So it goes with children’s book awards as well. Anyone would be thrilled to win the Newbery or Caldecott Medals, but earning an Honor (as the runners-up are called) is nothing to sneeze at.
This year’s honor books – and yes, they earn a silver medal – include one of those fascinating true stories that makes readers say, “how come I never knew that?”