Kids Blog

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

Mad at Mommy by Komako Sakai

Mad at Mommy by Komako Sakai

"I am so mad at you," the little rabbit says to his mother.  Mad at Mommy by Komako Sakai is the story of a little rabbit who is very angry at his mother.  The story continues with the little rabbit listing the reasons for his anger.  For instance, Mommy says that she cannot marry little rabbit even when he gets bigger.  Little rabbit goes on to inform his mother that when he gets bigger he "will do whatever he wants."

Komako Sakai is the author and illustrator of this tender story.  The illustrations are gentle and quiet as they juxtapose a tranquility against the ire of the little rabbit.  The muted tones beautifully capture the story while sparse text expresses the universal sentiment of children at one point or another during their childhood.  Every parent will recognize themselves as a child and will chuckle at the familiar words used by the little rabbit.  They may even recognize their own children.  In particular, the page where the little rabbit expresses his anger and turns his nose up into the air captured the moment beautifully.  I know that I have seen that expression myself.   This story is great to read aloud or for the emerging reader to ponder over after a particularly difficult day. 

In the end, the little rabbit announces that he is going away.  You can almost hear the "huff" as he leaves.   He walks out of the room only to quickly return and ask his mother if she missed him.   In the end the little rabbit and the mother are reconciled and everyone is happy.

Spring Hope

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems

I have hope for spring! Every year, I reach a point where I can’t bear another minute of cold, ice or snow, let alone the barren, brown landscape. Then February and my first harbinger of spring arrives, the Maymont Flower & Garden Show. Despite it all, I am filled with hope. If the weather is wearing you down, a book full of spring may be just what you need to keep trudging along! 

Sharing the Seasons, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, celebrates each season with poems and David Diaz’s vibrant illustrations. My favorite spring poem is by Fran Haraway and describes someone who ignores the chilly, north wind, the leafless trees and the lack of crocuses and though it’s much too cold, sits outside. Focusing instead on the almond tree buds and insisting, despite all other evidence that spring is here.  
  
Old BearLike Old Bear in the book by Kevin Henkes, I even dream of spring. Throughout his hibernation, Old Bear dreams of being a cub again with “flowers as big as trees” and a crocus he can take a nap in. His dreams progress through the seasons, the palette changing from the pinks and purples of spring to the yellows and oranges of autumn until he finally awakens. At long last he pokes his head out and “it took him a minute to realize that he wasn’t dreaming,” spring was indeed here!     
 

Car Science: An Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work by Richard Hammond

Car Science by Richard Hammond

Kids who like car books soon outgrow the ones with nice pictures and simple diagrams—and then what? What do you give a car-crazy kid who – might – be drawn into the fascinating world of science and engineering if he had the right teacher? Most car books for older kids are chock full of dull details and have no excitement whatsoever. They drone. They drag. They discourage with their very verbiage. We’ve got a cure for that.  Richard Hammond, star of the BBC’s Top Gear and past host of Brainiac: Science Abuse, has teamed with picture-mad DK publishing to bring off Car Science: An Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work.

The book is divided into four very fun, very illustrated sections: Power, Speed, Handling, and Technology. There’s never a dull moment as Mr. Hammond divulges details of “…everything you need to know to be a real driving expert. How a turbocharger works, how gasoline is made; we’ll look inside gearboxes and learn why a Formula 1 car’s brakes glow pink when it’s stopping. And, at the end, we’ll look at the kind of cars that we might be driving in the future.”