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Staff Picks: Books

Big Cat, Little Cat

 Elisha Cooper’s books are always a joy.  His use of line is simple and elegant; here, a white cat welcomes a small black cat to the home and teaches it “when to eat, when to drink, where to go, how to be.”  They live together, play together, and the black cat becomes older and larger as the white cat then begins to age.  Then one day the white cat went away.  “And that was hard.  For everyone.”  Big Cat, Little Cat is a lovely book for young pet lovers. 

 

 


Jake the Fake Keeps it Real

When Jake starts sixth grade at the middle school where big sister Lisa has always been a super star, Jake’s not sure what to expect. He got into the selective Music and Art Academy with his performance of “Song for My Father” on the piano. Now he’s not sure he can do what it takes to be successful there since he’s not really that interested in playing the piano. As Jake warms up to his new environment and makes new friends but keeps the old, hilarity ensues.
Writers Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach are responsible for some terribly funny books and movies, mostly for adults. I have been a fan of illustrator Keith Knight’s comic strips for a while and was excited to see this new work in the children’s chapter book domain. Jake the Fake Keeps it Real was a really funny read. The way the cartoon illustrations expand on the narrative make this a real pleasure to read. If you like Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, or Dork Diaries, I think you will really enjoy Jake the Fake.


Triangle

Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett's latest collaboration is, as you might imagine if you've read any of their other books, not exactly your typical children's book. Triangle and his friend Square are devious little shapes, playing pranks on each other and wandering through a landscape of shapes and things without shapes. Is Triangle as smart as he seems? Is Square really as clever as he thinks he is? And more important- will Square get out of the spot he's in at the end?

 


Steamboat school : inspired by a true story, St. Louis, Missouri 1847

Steamboat School is wonderful picture book that highlights yet another little known Black History fact.  It tells the story of the courageous and determined Reverend John Berry Meachum who ran a school on a steamboat that sailed up and down the Mississippi River. The story begins with young James, a free black growing up in Missouri during the 1840s.  While attending Reverend John’s school in the basement of a church, with only candle lights to see, James comes face-to-face with the harsh reality of the 1847 Missouri law which made it illegal to educate any Blacks (slave or free) in the state.  Author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Ron Husband have create an inspirational must-read with Steamboat School.


Who Squeezed the Sasquatch?

Don't Squish the Sasquatch is my go to choice right now to read aloud with kids of all ages.  While boarding an empty bus, Señor Sasquatch lets the driver know that he hopes it doesn't get too crowded because he does not like to get squished.  But what else could happen when the bus goes on to pick up Miss Elephant Shark, Mr. Octo-Rhino, Miss Goat-Whale, and Miss Loch Ness Monster Space Alien?  The combination proves to be explosive.

How will they revive Señor Sasquatch?

Kent Redeker's silly story mixed with Bob Staake's goofy illustrations just beg for you to ham this one up.  Check this one out and start practicing your Sasquatch voice.  

I just found out that there is a sequel: Don't Splash the Sasquatch!  Don't get in my way as I run to get it or you might get squished.


Rad Women

Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z tell the stories of women who did amazing things, some well-known and, maybe more importantly, some not so well-known. From Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston, Rad American Women A-Z came first and focuses on American women. Rad Women Worldwide focuses on forty women from all around the world who moved beyond boundaries. From punk rockers to polar explorers to authors, organizers, athletes, artists, and more, both of these great collections of biographical profiles feature amazing cut-paper illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl. Both are great for all ages but reside in the library's Children's and Teen materials collections. Check them out if you are interested in being inspired and learning some real-life amazing stories!

 


Olivia's Birds

Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf was published in 2011 when its author and illustrator, Olivia Bouler, was just 11 years old. When Olivia learned of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, she offered to donate her paintings of birds to anyone who donated money to the Audubon Society; she helped to raise over $150,000 for recovery efforts. The book offers interesting facts about birds, but what really stands out are Olivia's beautiful illustrations. Her book also includes kid-friendly tips on how to preserve our planet.

 


Fancy Party Gowns

This book is about Ann Cole Lowe, the fashion designer who designed and made Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress

She was once the best-kept secret in the society because she was a black woman. 

This book tells you about the inequality in the society back then, and more importantly, how Ann overcame her obstacles.

She was commissioned to make Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown and all the dresses for the wedding party. She had been working hard for months, then just ten days before the wedding, a water pipe burst and flooded her store. Most of the dresses were destroyed. Yet, she did not give up and was able to recreate all the dresses in days. 

This book inspired me. When the society treated black people very unfairly, Ann focused only on what she loved to do and what she could do. She did not give up because the society told her to. She showed the world her talents and that with determination and hard work, every one can accomplish great things, no matter your race or skin color.


For the Love of Bunnies and Books

Bunny's Book Club by Annie Silvestro is all about a Bunny's love of books! It all starts one day when he happens to hear a librarian reading outside to local kids. Bunny realizes right away that books could take him to faraway places where he can experience adventure and excitement!

When summer ends, story time moves inside the library, a place that Bunny didn't think he was allowed to enter. But one night his longing for books gets the better of him, and he decides to venture over to the library. But alas it is locked! What to do? Being an ingenious rabbit, he leaps at the bar of the book return, lands inside the slot and through it into the confines of the library itself. He gets very excited seeing all the books that are available. Bunny spends the night exploring the various sections of the building, picking up tomes of interest along the way. With a towering stack of books, he makes his way back to his burrow ready to read his newly found treasures. This behavior becomes a habit, and he returns night after night. Pretty soon he invites some of his animal buddies to join him in exploring the wonderful world of books. Somehow, all the animals are able to fit through the book return, even Bear but only after a good deal of squeezing and wriggling.

One particular evening, all the animals are so immersed in their book finds inside the library, that they don't notice or hear a librarian arriving to work early. Not knowing what to expect, Bunny and his friends are delighted that she points out that the library has strict rules and the first rule of business is that "every book lover must have one of these"- a library card. Each animal receives a shiny, new card allowing them to borrow books legitimately, as long as they are returned.

Back inside the confines of Bunny's home, they inaugurate Bunny's Book Club as proud founding members.

This is a truly whimsical story with lively and attractive illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, that is sure to please kids and even adults. It's very pro-library, pro-books, and pro-book club to boot. What's there not to like?

Although, I own a pet bunny named Patrick, adopted from the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary on St. Patrick's day six years ago, he is not much into books or reading. Being only four and one-half pounds, he makes up for his small stature with a very big assertive personality. He also happens to be very smart and as a result, he rules the roost in our house that he shares with three large male cats. Basically,whatever Patrick wants he eventually gets by manipulating both cats and humans who cohabit  in our house. In the past five or six months, nine year old Patrick or Patricio, as we sometimes fondly call him, has become quite cat-like in his behavior and tastes. He started to use the cats' litter box, sleeps in their cat beds, likes to sneak in a few cat kibbles for a snack and actively seeks out the cats for play time. He hasn't eaten Timothy Hay for years now and instead has trained his humans to purchase fresh greens for him three times a week. His favorites are cilantro,parsley, mint, and the super food for both humans and apparently bunnies- kale!

As my husband is fond of saying in referring to him, "What a guy!"

 

 

 

 


The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

 Nick and his cats, Verne and Stevenson, love to do things together.  Stevenson might be the tiniest bit grumpy, but he still goes along with things. . . until Nick decides to teach his cats to read.  Verne proves to be a quick learner, especially with words like fish.  But Stevenson wants nothing to do with books or flash cards.  Nothing!  But then Nick finds out that Stevenson likes pirates; he even has a stash of pirate drawings under the bed.  This changes things!  Check out The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read to see what happens next.