Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan


Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.
Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.
As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?
Why, yes, you will need tissues, why are you even asking? 

You could easily read this book in 15 minutes, but I encourage you to take much longer and savor the words. Jot down a line or two you like, such as

"Children tell tiny truths," Sylvan told me once. "Poets try to understand them."

If you have enjoyed anything at all by Patricia MacLachlan, you will like this one. Mature themes are dealt with in ways appropriate to a younger audience, and a happy ending that would normally seem trite, works here. (They don't ALL have to end like Stone Fox, okay?) Hand this one to your thoughtful young readers who are starting to really get into chapter books, but who haven't become too jaded to believe animals will talk to the right people.

Giving as a gift? Pair this with a beautiful blank journal, so your young reader can try his or her hand at creating poetry or prose.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Nobody Likes a Goblin, Ben Hatke

Nobody Likes a Goblin

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cozy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of "heroic" adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!
It's up to Goblin to save the day. But first he's going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.

I am in love with the illustrations in this one, particularly the little goblin. His jaw structure reminds me of a certain furry fellow I know

Hatke's style makes me think of Jim Henson collaborating with Mercer Mayer. The more humanoid characters have a slight Lord of the Rings feel, while the 'creatures' are just plain CUTE! The itty bitty dragons! And poor troll, who has lost his Honk-Honk! I could stare at these for hours.

The story is just as sweet. Poor little goblin hides in fear from the horrible adventurers, but once he realizes they have taken his best friend, he wastes no time in going after him. Much of the world is less than friendly to him, and the usual heroes (knights, elves) turn out to be the bad guys, while homely little Goblin's loyalty saves the day. In the end he has not only his old friend back, but a new and varied group of friends, from fellow goblins to a fair maiden.

And did I mention how CUTE he is?

Giving this as a gift? I did some investigating, and found Hatke (who is a bit of a cutie-patootie himself) sells some of his original artwork and prints, ranging from $35 to $600. You can find them here, on Etsy. Any would look wonderful, framed and hung on your reader's wall. Or, on mine, if you should feel the need to shop some more!

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom and Brendan Wenzel


"One day in the leaves
of the eucalyptus tree
hung a scare in the air
where no eye could see,

when along skipped a boy
with a whirly-twirly toy,
to the shade of the eucalyptus, 
eucalyptus tree."

Are your toes tapping? There's a definite rhythm going that has me thinking right away, "Story time! Early literacy!" Children can of course see the snake peeking out of the eucalyptus tree, and that snake gobbles up that boy with the whirly-twirly toy (ooh, let's make pinwheels as our craft!) The boy keeps calm and immediately hatches a plan, convincing the snake to swallow more and more adorably illustrated creatures (seriously - that sloth!), until he is finally so full, them all out.

A natural pairing with any of the million versions of that Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly, there are also so many social studies and science extensions to go with this title. I wonder if I can get eucalyptus leaves anywhere around here? Picturing a story time where we start off examining the leaves, comparing them with leaves that grow around here, discussing where these grow and what animals might live in or near them, and who might eat them. A quick read on Wikipedia gives a million more ideas and cool facts about this very interesting plant.

Equally fascinating is the brief author's bio on the end flap (do you read the author's bios? Always read the author's bios!) To begin with, Bernstrom is visually impaired. How's that for an inspiration for some of your young patrons? When he got the idea for this story (his first, two more are on their way), he was working as a custodian at a preschool. Discussion about pigeon-holing people, anyone? A look at his web site brought me to some of his blog posts, which are definitely not fluff pieces. 

Not to leave the illustrator out, Wenzel has another book, They All Saw a Cat, nominated for Cybils, and is a strong supporter of various conservation groups. Really, you could spin off into a whole week of lessons here!

To summarize: fun story, lively illustrations, early literacy skills and extensions galore. Pick up a copy soon!

Giving as a gift? Pair it with a sneaky stuffed snake, a few whirly-twirly toys, or stuffed versions of any of the other animals in the book.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review: I'm a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail

I'm a Girl!

The illustrations on this one looked familiar, and I finally located my mini review of One Word from Sophia, posted about this time last year. Same splashes of color and joie de vivre in these illustrations, and this time it carries over into the words. 

Our spunky young rabbit likes to have fun and make noise, isn't too concerned about making a mess. It does annoy her, however, when people are constantly mistaking her for a boy, prompting the constant refrain of, "I'm a girl! I'm a girl! I'm a girl!"In the end, she meets a boy who likes to play with dolls, and they end up having fun being themselves together.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While it didn't resonate with my kids, who are used to boys and girls playing however they want to, I immediately thought of a couple little girls I may be handing this off to. I'm sure most librarians or teachers will find a name or two springing to mind when they read it. and I found the fact that the bunny is never discouraged or feels she had to change very positive. 

After a few readings, however, I realized that the anti-stereotypes were almost a stereotype themselves, if that makes any sense. Almost every 'boyish' thing she did is portrayed in a negative light - messy, loud, destructive - with corresponding reactions from adults. Does this mean tomboys are just obnoxious? That boys have no manners? That being yourself means making everyone around you angry, and that's okay?

On the surface a positive book, but the mixed messages keep me from giving it a glowing review.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review - Miracle Man: the Story of Jesus, by John Hendrix

Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus

This is, to state the obvious, the story of Jesus, from the calling of Simon Peter to the resurrection. Up until the very last page, however, He is just called Miracle Man, or simply, the Man. In his author's note, Hendrix explains that he wanted to present the story free from "the trappings of religion around it", in an attempt to help readers see the story as if it was unfolding in front of them - as if they did not already know who this Miracle Man was, and what the rest of His story would be.

While I respect the idea, it didn't quite work that way for me. I think in order to bring the reader to that place, we would need to see and feel more of what the people around him were seeing and feeling, and that just didn't happen. The bare bones of the stories kept them from pulling the reader in very far before it was on to the next event.

On the other hand, I grew up knowing these stories, and there are many children (and adults) these days who did not. For a reader who is not familiar with the Gospels, using this book as an introduction might accomplish just what Hendrix is going for. Either way, it is an attractive accounting, and will find its place on our shelves.

One note about the illustrations: I chiefly liked them, and I generally like seeing changes in fonts, but some of these became confusing. For example, twice when reading it I missed the buildings saying "Rise and Walk", and the text made no sense until I went back. Maybe a younger reader would catch that more easily (or at least not miss it TWICE like I did!)

Want to give this as a gift? Do a search on Amazon for Bible story action figures to go along with it! I found these, featuring one of the stories mentioned in Miracle Man:

Tales of Glory - Jesus Walks on Water

Most of the 'cooler' looking (i.e. not just for little kids) figures seem to be centered around the Old Testament, which can also be a lot of fun and inspire more reading.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Wee Gallery Safari by Surya Sajnani

Wee Gallery: Safari: A Slide and Play book

I have to start with a comment about durability. Normally I don't even catalog books with "lift the flap" or "moveable parts" or "pop-up" anywhere in their description, even if they are donated to the library. They just don't last long enough to make the processing worth it! This, however, may actually make it to the shelves.

The moveable parts in this case are sliding puzzle pieces.

The sliders are thick, and securely fastened in their little grooves. I was able to slide my thumbnail underneath them, but it was obvious it would take some determined prying to get them out. Not indestructible, but they look like they would last as long as most other board books.

I saw a comment on one review saying the pieces were too hard for little ones to slide, but the kids I tested this on had no problem (the advantage of being a librarian - multiple age groups always on hand as guinea pigs!) The limited choices make this a great early introduction to puzzles - no turning it the wrong way or trying to force it into a place it won't fit - and no lost pieces, hooray!

Each puzzle is paired with a riddle.

It occurred to me that this series might be particularly successful with kids who are working extra hard on language and fine motor skills, and I just happen to know a few of those. I handed this copy over to my favorite preschool teacher working with students with developmental delays, and asked her to let me know what she and her students thought. After a few weeks of heavy usage, she reported that the kiddos loved it, and that the sliding pieces held up very well. She did say that the binding itself seemed to be a bit thin, and that she already needed to tape it. Overall, however, a success!

This whole series would be great as a gift, paired with some toy animals like these:

Melissa & Doug Animal Rescue Shape-Sorting Truck - Wooden Toy With 7 Animals and 2 Play Figures

Can't go wrong with Melissa and Doug!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had this Thanksgiving post all planned out, with photos of all the family and friends I am thankful for, and then never took a single picture. Too much fun eating and talking and laughing! We love having a variety of friends come together and watch them get to know each other, and the kids love having someone new to play with after five days 'stuck' with just each other.

I hope you all have had (are having)a wonderful day spent exactly the way you like, with food so good that all that's left is one solitary cream puff.

Which is about to be my I-finished-loading-the-dishwasher reward.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review: Masters of Disguise, by Rebecca L. Johnson

Okay, first of all: ewwwww!

Masters of Disguise: Amazing Animal Tricksters

See that bug on the cover? With what looks like a mound of dead ants stuck to its butt? 

That's an assassin bug. With a mound of dead ants stuck to its butt.

I'll stick to sunglasses and a hat if I want to disguise myself, thank-you very much. That isn't an option for most animals, however, and in this title Johnson explores some of the ways animals go about hiding themselves from each other - beyond the old camouflage and mimicry. 

From the butterfly larvae that makes ants think it is their queen, so that they will feed it their best - even ant larvae! - to the spider that builds a large puppet spider to scare predators away, this book left me wondering why animals haven't taken over the world yet and made us their slaves. Some of them sure do seem a lot smarter than us*! 

Then I thought about how pampered our animals are at home - both the 'domesticated' and the wild - and I realized maybe they already have. At any rate, I am glad they haven't designated me as their prey (yet), and I look forward to passing this title on to the next reluctant reader who walks into the library. Solid information presented in fascinating narratives, followed up by research from scientists in the field.

*Srsly. Does this video remind anyone of a certain Indiana Jones scene? They are smarter than us, and they cooperate a whole lot better!

Give this as a gift to that kid who thinks he doesn't like to read. Pair it with an ant farm (preferably not filled with those giant ants that eat people from the aforementioned movie), or a magnifying glass to go check out what the tiny critters in your own yard are up to!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Baby Loves Quarks and Aerospace Engineering by Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering!

Baby Loves Quarks!

This board book duo sets out to introduce the youngest readers to science vocabulary and concepts that you don't see very often in children's literature. As the publisher's description says, "Parents and caregivers may learn a thing or two, as well!"

Generally speaking, the board book audience is considered to be 0-2 years old. The illustrations are perfectly suited to this age group, with bright colors and cheery faces, not too much going on in a page. The text, however, is a bit too high. I'm all for introducing vocabulary early on, but both the concepts and sentence structure were more suited for ages 3 and up. I read them with my kids (ages 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10), and they all enjoyed the aerospace title. I asked them afterwards to re-explain what the book said, and the 6 and 10 showed that they had a pretty clear understanding. 

Nobody got the second title, though. The 5 and 6-year-olds kept asking, "But what IS a quark?", and the book didn't really explain that. They couldn't get past that frustration to really let the rest of it sink in. They did all laugh when the baby smashed his tower to pieces, however!

I think this is a good concept that just needs a little tweaking - either moving to a picture book format, or simplifying the information (and I don't know how you could simplify quarks and atoms and molecules more than this - some topics just may not work.) 

That's not to say don't buy these two. I can't imagine a better gift for the baby of a couple science geeks, for a start! You can pair them with a toy airplane or a set of building blocks, and people will think you are a genius yourself! If you are in a school or classroom where the 5-7 crowd is comfortable reading board books, the information is solid, and accessible to that age group. I'll be watching to see if Spiro and Chan come out with more titles.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: I Didn't Do It, by Tony Ross

I Didn't Do It!

The Little Princess has long been putting into words (and pictures) feelings many children can identify with. Perhaps nothing is so frustrating for a little one (or a bigger one for that matter), than being accused of something you didn't do! In this case, it seems everyone is upset with her, and nobody believes her. Her parents even take each other's side, which is just SO unfair. What can she do? Find a friend to talk to, of course! And perhaps the mystery of who is really to blame will be solved along the way...

Parents will figure the answer out immediately, and whether children are surprised by the ending or not, they will certainly commiserate with the Little Princess. The illustrations, always expressive, seem to be particularly silly in this title, and add to the fun. Note: parents who want to see bad behavior punished should skip this one and go find something a bit more moralistic, and probably less enjoyable.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Toddler STEM - Rainbows!

This month's theme for Toddler STEM was Rainbows! As with Pumpkins, the hardest part was narrowing down the activities.

Ever since we started doing Toddler STEM, I have wanted to make Rainbow Spaghetti

2lbs of each color, cooked al dente and tossed around with a little bit of oil (so it doesn't stick) and a lot of food coloring. Once the food coloring is in the spaghetti, it doesn't come off. During the mixing, however...I walked around with blood red hands all day Saturday, which is when I made it all! It stored in the refrigerator nicely all week.

Monday's group was small, and not at all sure about making a mess.

Then my kids showed up.

The goals here were using our senses and building vocabulary:

By the end of the week, this chart included words like "squishy", "blue", "weird", and..."like poop."

I didn't take pictures Wednesday, but THOSE kids had no problem taking shoes and socks off and climbing right in!

Rainbow Ball Pit

We had containers to toss them into, or to fill and dump.

Mostly kids just liked diving into the pool and sending them scattering!

Rainbow Fluff Treasure Hunt

Can you guess what the rainbow fluff is?

Unused, of course! And pretty easy to clean up, although there is still a small trail on the carpet...

Rainbow Soap Foam

Squirt of soap and a little water in a blender, quick pulse, and you are done. I sprinkled liquid watercolors on the top so we could try mixing.

I Spy Bags

These were a dud. Even Monday's group wanted messy activities, whether they would go all in or not! Colored rice is also great for sifting and pouring. Next time.

Puffy Rainbow Clouds

Have you ever put Ivory soap in the microwave? Two minutes and you have a puffy, soft cloud! We talked about how Ivory soap is made, with air bubbles whipped in, which is why it floats. Then we added more liquid watercolors and mushed it around.

If you want to, you can then reshape it however you want and let it solidify. My kids like to use it in the bathtub then, which is always a bonus.

Speaking of my kids, I heard water running and turned around to see this:

He washed all the dishes, all by himself! I see a new chore list in our household's future...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: A Place for Elijah by Kelly Easton Ruben and Joanne Friar

It's okay to review a holiday book nowhere near the holiday, right? Good. Because Passover isn't until April.

A Place for Elijah

As Sarah's family prepares for Passover, Sarah makes sure to save a chair at the table for the prophet Elijah who is said to visit every seder. But when the electricity goes out in the buildings across the street and the neighbors start arriving at Sarah's apartment, her parents invite each visitor to join the seder. Sarah adds another place setting for Elijah, and then another, but soon the table is full with people from her neighborhood and there are no more chairs to spare! How can Sarah honor the Passover tradition of saving a place for Elijah?

Sounds like Thanksgiving at our house. Especially last year, when I joked that people should bring any random person they found on the side of the road, and someone actually did! Highlight of the day!

Seriously, the idea that everyone is welcome at the seder table has always been one of its most appealing aspects to me. Welcoming and sharing with everyone regardless of differences is never a bad thing to contemplate on, and it's especially timely during the winter holidays. It doesn't have to be limited to Passover or Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other holiday, though: without rehashing national news, I have been encouraged by reports of people going out of their way to make others feel safe and welcome, which is the best response in any conflict.

Sarah's family makes sure each neighbor feels welcome, and explains traditions and symbolism along the way. A good introduction to the non-Jewish reader, but not so heavy-handed that a Jewish child will be rolling his eyes all the way through. The evening turns into quite the party, but Sarah still frets about Elijah's arrival, until a - coincidence? or not? - resolves the dilemma quite perfectly.

Whether your family celebrates Passover or not, this is a nice little book about sharing what you have and being a gracious host.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: Home at Last by Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka


Talk about "at last" - I have for years been bemoaning the lack of picture books for kids who were adopted out of foster care. There are dozens of picture books about some young mother, often in another country, making the decision to give her newborn baby up for adoption. While I respect the choices those women made, that is just not the reality for many children, and those other children need a book that is about them.

This book will go a long way towards closing that gap. From the very beginning, we read that adoption takes a LONG time. There are visits, and paperwork to be done...and adjustments to be made. There are fears to overcome, routines to learn, habits to deal with one way or another. Parents, new or experienced, don't always know what to do (shocker, I know.) Fortunately, with the help of "Two not-so-smart dads" and "one brilliant dog," Lester is well on his way to feeling safe and secure in his new family.

This was Williams' last book before passing away in October last year, and the end notes of her collaboration with Raschka are worth reading for their own sake. Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I have something in my eye.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Story Time - Being Thankful - and a Giveaway!

For our Thanksgiving story times, we steer away from historical depictions (traditional or more accurate) of the 'first' Thanksgiving, and focus on being thankful and sharing. There is so much goodness and fun to have with this topic, it could easily take the whole month!


Ten Fat Turkeys (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

My kids at home have read this so many times that, whenever we see wild turkeys cross the road in front of us, even the two-year-old says, "Gobble-gobble wibble-wobble!" Such a fun rhythm and rhyme, the words just roll off your tongue.

This Is the Turkey

Cumulative lines, great for predicting, follow the family as everything is prepared just right, and then - oh, no! The turkey meets with disaster. All is well, however, because the family still has each others' company and plenty left to eat.

Bear Says Thanks

Another one with predictable lines that let kids chime in, and again focusing on sharing and enjoying each others' company.

Ice Cream & Dinosaurs (Groovy Joe Series #1)

Not about the holiday at all, this is a fun way to talk about sharing, with call and response and predicting. And dinosaurs!


This site has some fun and easy turkey songs. Since we ended up skipping the Monster Pokey last month, we went with the Turkey Pokey this time around. In the middle of "put your tail feathers in", I did think to call out, "no Facebook videos!" Nobody needs to see Miss Ami shaking her tail feathers all about.


Omg, why in 2016 am I still seeing paper headdresses and buckled Pilgrim hats on Pinterest? Just...don't, people. Please. Don't.

We did a few thankfulness-related crafts during field trips, but this week took an entirely different tack and spun off of Groovy Joe. What could a library possibly need more than 30-40 preschoolers with their own drums?!

We put out a plea for tubs, and actually came up with more coffee than ice cream, but those worked even better. City employees drink a LOT of coffee, so we got bunches from City Hall, as well as a literal truckload from a friend who hadn't made it down to the recycling place in a while.

And then I got stuck at home with sick kids, and had to cancel the second story time. That's okay, our craft table had finally run out of leftover Halloween crafts, so EVERYBODY can have a drum!

We didn't get too fancy, just put out paper, foam shaped, and various shinies. The important part is the fun, and tapping out rhythms - a great skill to form now which helps with hearing syllables later!

Prereading Skills

So, we had rhythm, rhyme, repetition, predicting, vocabulary, and print motivation. Quite a bit packed into those four short stories!


The kids can't have all the fun, can they? Today we would like to offer up this pretty adult coloring book from Harper Collins:


Just tell us in the comments something you are thankful for, and you are automatically entered! I will draw a winner at random on Wednesday, November 16, and try to get it in the mail before Thanksgiving - so you have a way to tune out any family...discussions going on around you, should the need arise. Make sure your comment includes a way for me to get hold of you, and US addresses only, please!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our New President!

Who? No, not THAT President. That's already old news. We mean, the President and Vice President elected here at our library, from a list of candidates as varied as they were enjoyable. All day yesterday, kids and adults alike came to cast their ballots, including a first grade class from a nearby school who were an absolute trip!! One older lady giggled as she filled out her ballot, then looked up at me and said, "I'm laughing! On Election Day!" I saw another adult walk in the front door in her work uniform, come over and vote, and then leave again without conducting any other library business. Those all made my day!

The plan was to tabulate the results first thing in the morning...and then I got stuck at home with sick kids. Thank-you to Lisa for doing that for me!

Without further ado, the winners are...

Elephant and Piggie!

They took 26% of the vote, and were followed by:
Pooh and Piglet - 20%
Pete the Cat and Groovy Joe - 18%
Ladybug Girl and Curious George - 18%
Fancy Nancy and Pigeon - 6%

Write-ins took 10% of the vote, and included Snoopy, Ranger's Apprentice, Frog and Toad, Katie Woo, and Pippi Longstocking.

All wonderful choices!

As for that other election...I'll just repeat what I posted on Facebook yesterday morning:

"Go vote (if you haven't already). Then let it go. Whatever the results, the world will still be here tomorrow. 99% of what affects your life has nothing to do with who the President is, so once you have done your part in the 1% by voting, get off your butt and see about the other 99%. That should keep us all way too busy to gripe about that first bit."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: Mervin the Sloth is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, by Colleen AF Venable and Ruth Chan


Just what IS the best thing in the world? Mervin's friends think they know...digging! No, flying! No, gazelling! No, turning into a robot! It becomes quite the argument, until everyone finally leaves in a huff except Mervin's best friend, and Mervin...well, we're not going to tell you what he does, you'll have to read the book.

Kids will get a huge kick out of the animals' commentary, and will enjoy coming up with their own suggestions before the actual Best Thing is revealed (easy drawing/writing extension!). The illustrations are also a lot of fun, with the text dropping down onto the page (giving hints along the way), and becoming a physical part of the scene - koala falls asleep on an "r", while gazelle fractures more than one letter with his...gazelling. Through it all, Mervin doesn't budge until it is his time to act.

Definitely one for the shelves and for the read-aloud list!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Buddy for President, by Hans Wilhelm, and some Election Day Fun!


Hunter Green would like everyone to know why his dog, Buddy, would make a great President. 

- he is helpful
- he loves the great outdoors (like Theodore Roosevelt)
- he is great at kissing babies
- and who better to preserve, protect and defend than a hound?

Campaign promises include more recess, and throwing frisbees rather than going to war. Who could argue with that? A fun read-aloud for this time of year, offering a discussion of the elections without being overly technical or political.

With Election Day coming up very soon, we have had quite a bit of campaigning here at the library. Thanks to our local County Clerk, children can come in November 8 and cast their ballot for any of these presidential candidates and 
their running mates:

Elephant and Piggie - Balance and Enthusiasm!

Pete the Cat and Groovy Joe - It’s all Good!

Ladybug Girl and Curious George - Take chances! Make every day an adventure!

Fancy Nancy and Pigeon - What our country needs is accessories!*

                                                                                      *and hot dogs!

Pooh and Piglet - Steadfast and dependable

(Unfortunately, Buddy did not make this year's ballot).

At least one local class of first graders is coming by to vote, and the polls so far are showing Elephant and Piggie with a strong lead. Who would you choose? Cast your vote in the comments - and don't forget to go vote grown-up style on Tuesday (if you haven't already)!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Can I Tell You a Secret? by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

Is this guy cute or what?


Young Monty instantly draws readers in by addressing them directly, asking if they can keep a big secret for him. The secret? He's afraid of water! And he's a FROG!!! How embarrassing! He hasn't told anyone, not even his parents. He goes to all sorts of extremes to hide it, but he is running out of ideas. What should he do?

After several false starts - and with the helpful support of the reader - Monty finally comes clean to his parents (who, of course, knew all along). With their encouragement and with the reader coming along for moral support, he finally faces his fears (in a small way). 

I love the interactive nature of the book, and the empowering feeling that comes from helping someone else with their fear. Who knows - just maybe that will translate to readers facing a fear of their own (which, of course, is the whole point.)

The illustrations are both simple and bright, featuring mainly Monty and a little bit of pond background, but showing an impressive array of facial expression! The close-up focus on Monty really helps pull readers in and feel as if they are exchanging confidences with him. 

A great addition to the shelves, and one to put on your bibliography lists for parents!