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Staff Picks: Books

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

As a child walks through her town, she greets the summer morning, the big orange sun, the walking sticks and butterflies . . . “Hello, chill in the air.” And they reply to her; “Hello, it’s time to bring out your thick sweaters and scarves.”

Simple, thoughtful text is matched with lovely illustrations with many small details to catch the eye of the youngest listener. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn is a beautiful picture book about the changing season.


Sewers and the Rats That Love Them

There are some kids out there who ask why the sky is blue, what stars are made of, and if magic is real. Then there are kids who ask where the stuff in the toilet goes after you flush. And some adults wonder too. Or maybe I’m the only one.

Anyway, I stumbled across Sewers and the Rats That Love Them, by Kelly Barnhill, after reading The Mostly True Story of Jack and searching Barnhill in the catalog to see what else she has written. I was delighted to discover this book of gross and learned from its 28 pages of sanitation information facts about the history of waste removal, the steps of wastewater treatment, and why sewers make terrific homes for rats. I thought the book was really cool and it made me grateful for indoor plumbing, which is probably my favorite modern invention. Indulge your kids’ or your own curiosity with this interesting book, and maybe look into Barnhill’s other peculiar nonfiction titles, such as Sick, Nasty Medical Practices, The Bloody Book of Blood, and Animals with No Eyes, among others. I won’t even think you’re that weird.

Twenty Yawns

I’ve been reading Jane Smiley’s Twenty Yawns at storytime lately because I really like it. I think it’s one of the best summer themed bedtime books. A child spends the day at the beach with her parents. Later on, at bedtime, mom falls asleep while reading a bedtime story. She sees the pictures she has drawn on her wall looking at her, but it’s not scary. Lucy goes to find her bear, Molasses, and brings all the stuffed animals back to her bed where she tucks them in. Then all the pictures yawn. The stuffed animals yawn and so does Lucy. They fall asleep.

The illustrations are gorgeous. In 2015, illustrator Lauren Castillo received a Caldecott honor for Nana in the City, which she also wrote. Jane Smiley, a well known author of books for grown-ups, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992 for her novel A Thousand Acres. In Twenty Yawns, she has crafted a peaceful read for children and families to end a busy summer day.


A John Berry Meachum Story

This fictional children’s story was inspired by a real event. In Missouri in 1847 a law was passed that prohibited the education of Blacks, slaves or free. This law was passed by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri and it stated that: “No person shall keep a school for the instructions of negroes or mulattoes, reading or writing in this state.”

A man named John Berry Meachum lived from 1789-1854. He had been born a slave and worked to earn enough money to buy his freedom. In 1826 he became a minister of the first African American Baptist Church in Missouri. Although, educating blacks was against the law it was very important to Meachem. Being a very resourceful and creative person he worked to find ways to defy the unjust law that stated black people could not be educated within the state. He built a steamboat and used it in the middle of the Mississippi River as a school for Blacks.

That’s where the idea for this great story, Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson, came from.

Awake Beautiful Child: an ABC Day in the Life

I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal's way with words and letters and many of her books have become favorites at our house. Awake Beautiful Child is a wonderful picture book that tells the story of an average day in new creative way. Each phrase uses words that start with A-B-C in alphabetical order. Some of my favorites include, "Above, Birds Chirp", "Afar, Bells Chime", "Afternoon Brings Calm", and "Always Be Curious". We were inspired to create our own stories at home using just words that start with just those 3 letters again and again. The illustrations with Gracia Lam are wonderfully retro, calming, and fun! Find it in our picturebook collection in the JE Concepts Neighborhood.

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly

Welcome to a brand new series by the author of Dork Diaries. The new series: Misadventures of Max Crumbly is based on Max who is facing the scariest place he’s ever been: South Ridge Middle School.

Max has been homeschooled by his Grandma, a retired kindergarten teacher, and frankly he is tired of animal crackers and naps. He must make middle school work or it’s back to Grandma’s kindergarten. In Locker Hero, Max runs into some trouble from Thug (Doug) the 8th grade school bully, who takes every opportunity to stuff Max into his locker. Max must become like his favorite comic book hero in order to think and act his way out of his locker at the beginning of a 3 day weekend. There might also be a part with thieves trying to steal the school computers, Max seeing them and then trying to get away. Super hero powers are needed – can Max do it?

Written in the same diary entry format and the same great illustrations, this is sure to be a fun new series which will fly off the shelves. Watch for it to be another bestseller for Rachel Renee Russell.

Squid for President!

Jokes about presidential candidates are just too easy this time around so I’m going to skip that part and get right to Aaron Reynolds new picture book President Squid. It is true that no giant squid has ever been president before, but this might be the right time. Squid wears a tie, lives in a big house (a sunken cruise liner), is famous (he’s in a book), does all the talking, and likes to boss people around so he thinks he is perfect for the job. Will he be the fifth president carved into Mt. Rushmore? If you aren’t already having enough fun during this year’s presidential race, check out President Squid for even more laughs. 

Speaking of storybook characters running for president, stay tuned for our mock election this Fall where each library location will nominate and campaign for one for president. Of course, Washington Square’s nominee, Dora the Explorer, will win!

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood

Mira loves to "doodle, draw, color, and paint" so her room is filled with vibrant pictures that she created herself.  Her neighborhood, on the other hand, is dull and gray.  Until the day a muralist moved in.  Together the two of them set off to paint the town.

Based on a true story, this picture book is about the East Village neighborhood in San Diego.  It tells the story of a community that Rafael and Candace Lopez brings together and the creation of the Urban Art Trail.  Lopez (who is also the illustrator of the book) along with community leaders, teachers, artists, and residents worked together to turn their neighborhood into a walkable piece of art.  This picture book is an inspiring story with wonderful illustrations that young children will love.

School's First Day of School

 Everyone is just a little bit nervous on the first day of school, even the brand-new school building.  “A sign above the door read, FREDERICK DOUGLASS ELEMENTARY.  ‘That’s a good name for me,’ thought the school.”  On this first day, some kids learn about rectangles, some cry, some are bored, some play on the jungle gym.  “So that’s what that is for,’ thought the school.”  Be sure to take a look at this book before school starts . . . School’s First Day of School is a reassuring story about new beginnings for everyone. 


Lane Smith’s “There Is a Tribe of Kids”

Lane Smith’s picture book titled: There Is a Tribe of Kids is both curious and educational, plus, it’s a reference book. Patrons have traditionally asked librarians questions such as: what do you call a group of this or that, whether it be animals (animal aggregations), or some other group. Familiar animal aggregations are: a school of fish, a flock of geese, pack of dogs, you get the idea. In Smith’s book, a lone child takes us on a journey from animal group to animal group and eventually to a group of children. Lane Smith’s illustrations are truly amazing and full of antics and delightful detail. Lane Smith has written and illustrated many children’s books, and Lane received a Caldecott Honor Award for Grandpa Green. He was named an Eric Carle Artist for “lifelong innovation in the field of children’s picture books” in 2012!