Kids Blog

No Batteries Required: Serious Fun with String Games

People all over the world, from the Arctic to the South Pacific, love to play with string. They often use the pictures that the string suggests to tell stories from their ancient traditions. The Inuit might use sinews or leather from the animals they hunt, and the islanders might use tree bark fiber. You could use macrame or nylon cords or even simple, white string to show off your creations.

Art Books for Young Readers

Look! Look! Look!

 My week has been filled with art! Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed the Picasso exhibit at the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts. This week, I have been working with colleagues on the 16th Annual Teen Art Show. Both are awe-inspiring and worth a trip! There is a charge for the Picasso, in Richmond through May 15th, but the teen art is absolutely free and runs through March 30 at the Headquarters Library. If you attend either event, or know a child who’s interested in art, there are books to enrich their experience. 

 Three mice find a postcard that was delivered in the people’s part of the house. “Look! Look! Look!” they cry, in this book of the same name. On one side is a beautiful painting of a woman. “They looked from top to bottom, side to side, bottom to top.” One mouse, cuts viewing frames out of pieces of paper. Using their frames they discover the painting in new ways. They notice the patterns on her dress and the way her hand looks so real. They see each individual color and notice which ones are missing. Inspired, they draw the lady using only lines, but soon they recreate her using shapes and before long, are making completely new art. This book, written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender, is a wonderful introduction to not just looking at art, but truly seeing it.
  

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary.  Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children.  As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal.  In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm.  This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children.  The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!

Sally and the Purple Socks

One day Sally the duck is thrilled to get a pair of purple socks in the mail in Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold. They are lovely and so soft, but a bit small. However, there is something special about these socks: they will grow to the "size ordered." Once she airs them out, they fit just right.

Sally wears them all day - dancing, cleaning, and relaxing. After a while she notices something curious - the socks have grown to be too big.

But Sally is resourceful, and the purple socks become a soft purple scarf and cap....and so on. With each page, the socks grow larger and larger, and Sally deftly adapts to their new size and makes them into something totally new.

Meindert DeJong: A Gentle, Persistent Spirit

Newbery Medal-winning author Meindert DeJong (pronounced De-Young) immigrated to the United States with his family as a young boy. The family came to America so that his older brothers would not be drafted to fight in World War I. The DeJong family had a difficult time in their new country. The family was poor, and the children were sent to a private, religious school where the children were bullied for being immigrants. Meindert DeJong never forgot the experience of being a lonely child, and he wove that perspective into many of his books.  

George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights

George Mason, future patriot, spent part of his childhood in Stafford County. His father died by drowning when he was very young, so he sometimes stayed with relatives including his uncle, John Mercer who lived at Marlborough Point. His uncle was a lawyer and landowner. He had a large library for the time—more than 1,500 books—and 11-year-old George enjoyed the library, including law commentaries his uncle had written. 

After studying at a private school in Maryland and with tutors (including his uncle), George Mason took control of his family’s lands. He was the second largest land owner in Fairfax County—the largest being George Washington. When Washington went to serve as head of the Continental Army, George Mason took his place in the Virginia legislature. 

The Chiru of High Tibet, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

This book is another example of why I love reading children's books.  The Chiru of High Tibet by Jaqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter, introduced me to an animal I knew nothing about--the chiru.  Chiru are unique animals resembling antelopes, but related to wild goats and sheep.  Their wool is special also and is considered to be the finest in the world. It is called shahtoosh, the king of wools. In order for this wool to be used, the animal has to be killed. 

A man named George B. Schaller was very worried about the chiru and its existence.  He was afraid that if something was not done to protect them, they would become extinct.  So Schaller decided to do something.  He wanted to protect the chiru from the hunters.  In order to do that, he had to find the secret place where the female chirus gave birth.  After several attempts to locate this elusive spot failed, four mountain climbers offered to help Schaller.

They set out on the journey with no trucks and no camels or donkeys that would need feeding.  They pulled their supplies in wheeled carts across the plains of Tibet.  When you read this book you will find out how their journey went and how the chiru situation was resolved. 

The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands

The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands

It is 1941, and the German Army occupies The Netherlands.  A young Dutch boy named Piet has been given the task of escorting two neighborhood children to safety in Brussels.  The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands, by Louise Borden, is the exciting story of Piet Janssen.  He live in the town of Sluis in the Netherlands.  His town is on the border between The Netherlands and Brussels.  During the winters there, it is so cold that the canals freeze and the ice is thick enough to skate on.  In fact, skating is a form of transportation for many people in the Netherlands.

Piet loves to skate.  He also idolizes a skater named Pim Mulier who once skated through eleven towns.  Many Dutch have skated through towns, but the route that Pim took has its own name, the Elfstedentocht (the Eleven Towns Race).  Piet has been training to duplicate this race and finish just like his idol Pim Mulier.  But in December of 1941, many of the Dutch were concerned with much more than a race along the canals.  Their country was occupied by Germany.  Because of the war, many fathers were gone.  They had joined the Allied forces in England. 

If you like Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents' estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.

If you like the Fablehaven series you might like:
 

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
The Alchemyst
by Michael Scott
While working at pleasant but mundane summer jobs in San Francisco, fifteen-year-old twins, Sophie and Josh, suddenly find themselves caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists, Nicholas Flamel and John Dee, over the possession of an ancient and powerful book holding the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life.
 
 

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
The Amulet of Samarkand
by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.


 


Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Dragon Slippers
by Jessica Day George
Orphaned after a fever epidemic, Creel befriends a dragon and unknowingly inherits an object that can either save or destroy her kingdom.

 

Great read alouds for all ages

Moo, Baa, La La La!

Today might be Valentine’s Day, but every day is perfect for sharing a love of reading with your child or teen. There’s nothing quite like settling down, cozying up and sharing a great book.

Way back, when my son was a toddler, his favorite book was