When Mercer Mayer was a young artist looking for book illustration work, a potential employer suggested he give up and throw away his portfolio. Fortunately for the thousands of children who have enjoyed his many books, he did not give up. Indeed, he went on to create one of the first widely-published wordless books for children, A Boy, A Frog, and a Dog. That book and its successors were hugely popular.
Soon after that, Mayer tackled one of the biggest problems facing young children—how to cope with fears of the unknown. Rather than write pedantic, matter-of-fact, non-fiction children’s books, he turned the process of dealing with those fears into engaging stories from a child’s point of view: There’s a Nightmare in My Closet; There’s an Alligator under My Bed; and There’s Something in My Attic.
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Even Thanksgiving, that most American of holiday’s, is a melting pot of celebrations. Some will eat turkey at grandmother’s house, others fish at a restaurant and some Chinese food ordered in. Some of us will play football, some will watch it on TV and others will head to the movies. No matter how you celebrate, the following titles will bring new and delightful insight to this long-standing tradition.
I remember my first election. I was ten years old and there was a long line, but the reward was an “I Voted” sticker which I proudly wore. The next morning, I eagerly asked who won and was disappointed that it wasn’t my mom’s candidate. That was the first time I ever took an interest in politics and all of these years later, I still remember the experience. When you vote, you have a chance to create similar memories. Take your young person and talk to them about the election process. If you’re not sure what to say, the library offers excellent resources some of which are featured below.
“Today on Election Day” by Catherine Stier captures the excitement of voting from the point of view of several young protagonists. On election day, one child waits to cross the street with construction workers, restaurant servers and a pilot, all of whom are heading to the polls. Another is going with his 18 year old brother to vote in his first election. Yet another joins his grandfather who, in all of his years of voting, has pushed down a lever, punched a card and even marked a paper ballot. Stier successfully relates the voting experience to an early elementary audience. Readers will finish the book with an understanding and sense of pride for our election process.
It started as a a funny, little notion scrawled of a piece of scrap paper. "Mice have a culture all their own; Too small to integrate with other animals." Over the past decade, David Petersen's throwaway thought has emerged into a beautifully vivid adventure series that combines breathtaking action with gorgeous artwork. That series starts with Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.
The Mouse Guard are essentially wandering knights who serve a widespread kingdom. Mice have many natural predators and the guard has been established to protect citizens and keep the peace. But the kingdom is not simply threatened by snakes and owls. There are also enemies within.
Almost 400 children gave their best guess in Salem Church Library's annual candy corn guessing contest! Each armed with a different strategy, children studied the jar, counted the layers, consulted grown-ups and just threw out a wild guess, all in order to win a jar full of candy corn. 1st grader, Joshua M. guessed 379, the exact number of pieces, and he is now the proud owner of a jar full of this favorite fall choice of sweet tooths and sugar fiends.
Children’s author and illustrator Margot Zemach was born into a show business family--her father was a theater director, and her mother was an actress. Growing up, she drew imaginatively costumed characters to retell her favorite fairy stories and folktales, something she continued to do as an adult that would lead her to worldwide fame.
As she wrote in her autobiography, Self-Portrait: Margot Zemach: "I can create my own theater and be in charge of everything. When there is a story I want to tell in pictures, I find my actors, build the sets, design the costumes and light the stage. . . . If I can get it all together and moving, it will come to life. The actors will work with each other, and the dancers will hear the music and dance. When the book closes, the curtain comes down."
Call me clichéd, but autumn is one of my favorite times of year. On a physical level, I can pull out my cozy sweaters and boots and be consistently warm, and on a spiritual one, I can kick leaves with my husband and enjoy the breeze while walking the dogs. Somehow picture book authors successfully capture all of the wonderful elements of this beautiful season of change.
Looking for a spooky story to read in October? Wait ‘Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn, is a great book for brave readers ages 10 and up. It’s narrated by 12-year-old Molly, who has moved into a new house out in the country with her 10-year-old brother Michael, her mom, her new stepdad, and his 7-year-old daughter, Heather. The home just happens to be a converted church bordering extensive grounds, ruins, and even a graveyard. Sounds like the perfect setting for something sinister to happen, right?
“I have always thought my best stuff was in my sketchbooks. I have hundreds and hundreds of sketchbooks. I like to work at night, I suppose because that’s when my defenses are sort of low. I have my most creative ideas at night. I’m less inhibited, and I really let it rip.”
From: Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book, edited by Leonard S. Marcus. p. 96; pp. 82-106 are on James Marshall
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, James Marshall’s whimsical drawings added humor to dozens of children’s picture books. While many were made for other writers’ works, including classics such as Mother Goose, Edward Lear, and Ogden Nash, he was also a talented writer on his own. Indeed, he became one of the most popular and prolific illustrators in children’s publishing. In high school, however, he wasn’t so much about the art--though he did doodle, as he called it--as about the music which he saw as a way to get a scholarship to college far away from swampy Texas town where his family lived.