When David Small was, well, small, he was often sick and had to stay home from school. He would spend hours drawing and making up stories for fun to keep from being bored. He grew up in the very big city of Detroit, but he spent his summers out in the countryside with his grandparents. David was shy, but he enjoyed being with the animals on the farm, and he loved visiting museums with his parents and taking art lessons.
To open a book illustrated by Floyd Cooper is to be drawn into a world of warmth, bravery, and joy. His drawings are as essential as the text itself in illuminating the world of childhood, often of the Black experience.
He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1956. Early on, his family lived in the projects and had little money, but his mother was able to give him a sense of self-worth that he has carried with him always. She also shared stories with him, helping to build his imagination.
Bored? Nothing to do? Jump into a cozy picture book on a winter night. Troublesome trolls and a beauty's Beast! Helpful hedgehogs and polite polar bears! Whether you find yourself surrounded by swirling snowflakes or a chilly blue twilight, there are no better companions for winter's frozen brightness than Jan Brett's tales from the European tradition.
Plant sunflowers on the Moon? What a great idea! Now, how can we get there? Why, a bicycle of course!
Have you ever looked at the Moon and thought it looked sad? It’s all by its lonesome and nothing lives there. For one young boy his sole mission is to cheer up the Moon. How does he plan to cheer up the moon? By planting sunflowers! In the picture book How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers: A Simple but Brilliant Plan in 24 Easy Steps, author Mordicai Gerstein has laid out a plan for anyone to follow to reach the Moon. NASA hasn’t even thought of it! All you will need is a bicycle, a huge slingshot, an extremely long garden hose, and a spacesuit, size extra small, from NASA. Sounds easy, right? Have you gotten permission from your parents? Uh, oh, that could be the most difficult part of this brilliant plan.
Have your kids picked up their Potomac Nationals coupon yet? Have they whispered the secret word to the librarian and received a treat? How about keeping up their reading skills by reading whatever they want all summer long, and earning prizes along the way?
If not, don’t despair! They can do all this and more when they sign up for the free Summer Reading Club at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Now through the end of the month, stop by any branch or online at Kids.LibraryPoint.org, and your kids can join the thousands of others in our area who are having fun reading this summer.
Even pre-readers are welcome to join. Start them out with some beachy books just right for the dog days of summer.
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.
I took up residence on the Children’s Desk at the library about one year ago. Although I have been adored and admired by many, some people actually give me the cold shoulder. Can you believe that people say things like, “Oh, it’s a fake hamster. Whatever!” or “Let’s go. It’s not real.” I have even been called a rat! I want you all to know that I am listening, even if I don’t always physically react (my batteries run low sometimes, don’t yours?). And just for the record, I prefer the term faux.
She's been compared to Hans Christian Andersen and that clever fable maker Aesop. For children (and adults!) in today's world, her carefully crafted stories sing with a timeless rhythm and an honest truth. Her family's Russian-Jewish roots have given her the jumping-off place for many a tale (And Twelve Chinese Acrobats, Firebird, and Baba Yaga), but some stories seem to drawn from the heart of the world itself.
Jane Yolen, born in New York City on February 11, 1939, showed a talent for writing early on when she wrote and composed the words and music to her grade school pageant, starring as the lead carrot. She seems to have never slowed down during her years in high school: news editor of the school paper, Spanish club vice president, singing with the a capella choir, and captain of the varsity basketball team. Summers spent at a Vermont camp run by Quakers influenced her deeply. Several of her later books (The Gift of Sarah Barker and Friend: The Story of George Fox and the Quakers) relate to this period of spiritual growth.
When Minfong Ho was a small girl, she listened. She listened to her parents who taught her all those necessary things that parents do. Their words were Chinese, and their words went straight into her heart, giving her wisdom and strength.
When Minfong became a little older, she played in the streets, marketplaces, and temple fairs of Bangkok. All around her, she heard life being experienced: the shouting, the playing, the prayer, the love, and the daily work. It was time to grow, a time to learn how to do the practical things. Minfong came to think of Bangkok’s Thai language as the language of doing; the language of her hands.