Children's Book Columns
It’s high summer now, with the library’s summer reading clubs in full swing and the Fourth of July right around the corner. Marla Frazee’s award-winning picture book, “A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever,” captures the best of summer from a kid’s point of view.
James and Eamon are spending the week with James’s grandparents so they can attend nature camp. While Grandfather Bill tries his best to interest the boys in Antarctica, and Grandmother Pam fills them with banana waffles and ice cream sundaes, the boys enjoy all kinds of fun, most of it unrelated to nature camp. Identifying birds? They have more fun training their binoculars on each other’s freckles. Sleeping in the basement on the blow-up mattress, playing video games, and eating more banana waffles are the highlights of their week.
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!