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Staff Picks: Books

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

When Jacqueline Bouvier married John F. Kennedy, she wore an exquisite silk dress made by Ann Cole Lowe.  I did not know that Ann Cole Lowe was African American until I discovered this wonderful picture book written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Laura Freeman. Despite dealing with segregation and prejudices, Cole’s designer fashions were highly sought after by the Vanderbilts, the Rockerfellers, and the Roosevelts. In addition, she established a prosperous design studio on Madison Avenue in New York City. Included at the end of the book are citations for further readings on Ann Cole Lowe and other historical African American fashion designers. This book is a great read for young children and just in time for Black History Month.

 


Snowman Goes From Being Lonely to Being Perfect With a Little Love and New Friends

The Most Perfect Snowman, written and delightfully illustrated by Chris Britt, is about a simple,lonely snowman named Drift, who has arms made out of sticks and a nose and mouth made of coal.

He dreams of wearing some splendid items of clothing like a hat, scarf, mittens and of possessing a pointed carrot nose. like so many other more stylish snowmen, who would often ridicule his plain looks. 

One day three children come upon Drift and much to his delight share with him a scarf, hat, mittens as well as a pointy carrot nose. Upon donning his new togs, the kids proclaim him to be a perfect snowman and all spend the rest of the afternoon in fun play.

Once darkness begins to set in, the kids say goodbye and head home.During the night ,a blustery blizzard blows most of Drift's clothes away. All is not lost because he befriends a scared, cold and hungry tiny bunny who asks for his help to survive. Sure enough, Drift gives the bunny his scarf for warmth  and his carrot nose to relieve his hunger. With these acts of kindness and generosity, he proves that he truly is the most perfect snowman!

 


The Poet's Dog

Patricia MacLachlan creates another heartwarming chapter book for readers of all ages with The Poet's Dog. This is an excellent book to read aloud with children. The relationships between pets, siblings, friends and poets will show you goodness, humor and love. “Dogs speak words, but only poets and children can hear. When you can’t find a poet, find a child.” Thank you to the author for these words. I love looking at the world through the eyes of children, and this book does that perfectly. Does the dog save the children, or do the children save the dog? You’ll have to read for yourself and see if you can decide!


I Am a Child of Books

And I hope you are too. Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston teamed up to create one of my favorite picture books of the year. This is a book that young children will delight in hearing, older children will revisit the artwork and creativity again and again, and book lovers of all ages will be moved by its story.

Child of Books tells the story of a girl who sails across the sea of stories and visits a forest of fairy tales. The waves of the sea are "made" from classic texts, the leaves on the trees are "made" from fairy tale words.

The incredible mixed-media artwork in this book alone is worth checking out. But the real magic of this book is its moving tribute to the power of stories and imagination have to make us into who we are and to help us imagine all that we could be.


Motor Miles

“Miles was a very difficult dog.”  He didn’t like rain, or going for walks, and he barked too much.  But he did love one thing . . .going for rides in the car, especially up the hill to the café.  So the neighbor, Mr. Huddy, decided to make a car just for Miles.  Well, that certainly changed things!  I do love John Burningham’s matter-of-fact story voice; and his illustrations are the perfect blend of watercolor and ink squiggles. 

 

 


Anything but ordinary Addie: the true story of Adelaide Herrmann, the Queen of Magic

This winter KPL has invited everyone to take part in a Winter Reading Challenge, and I hope everyone will!  I needed a book for the second reading activity:  Read about a topic you don't know much about.  I thought I knew some things about magicians and how they do tricks, but I realized how little I knew about the history of magicians when I came across Anything but ordinary Addie: the true story of Adelaide Herrmann, the Queen of Magic.  This new biography picture book for children is FANTASTIC!  It is about the life of Adelaide Herrmann who was a "shocking" and "dazzling" magician during a time when being a female magician was unheard of.

I am always excited to see little known facts about women's contributions to history come to light, especially in a children's book.  As a young girl, Adelaide knew she wanted to be different and she wanted to do things not expected of a young girl growing up during the Victorian era.  What better way to shock society than to grow up and become a magician, get shot out of a cannon, be set on fire, or have your head cut off.  The full color illustrations in this book are vibrant and powerful; they bring the pages to life.  The author Mara Rockliff has written a simple, easy flowing story that will engage anyone reading it.  I recommend this as a must read for elementary school kids and preschoolers will definitely enjoy the wonderful illustrations.


Towers Falling

I remember how nice the day was. How I didn’t want to go to school. I remember being bored in my Focus on Freshman class when the assistant principal ran, red faced and huffing, into the classroom, handed our teacher a piece of paper, and then ran out. I remember the whole class asking if we were on lockdown, if there was an active shooter in our school, or in the high school across town. I remember the teacher struggling with how to explain what had just happened to a bunch of 9th graders. I remember thinking the world was about to change.

It’s hard to imagine that something that happened not that long ago, something I can still remember so vividly, could be a foreign concept to someone else. In Towers Falling, fifth grader Dèja Barnes wonders how something that happened before she was born could have to do with her. How could this bit of history, something that happened 15 years ago, have any impact on her now? The story follows her as she realizes that 9/11 may have happened before she was born, but the effects have touched everyone around her, and ripple outward to affect her life in ways she did not previously understand. This book does such a fabulous job of showing how we are all connected through our small communities that build outward and how we’re all connected as Americans to 9/11 and how history is never something that exists only in the past tense.


They all saw a cat

I discovered this book at this year’s Youth Literature Seminar and had to take it home with me. The book has a simple, repetitive, rhyming text that is great when reading to very young children and gives it a sort of sing-song quality. What I really love about this book though, is the way it is illustrated. The cat meets a number of other animals and each has a different view or perspective of it. The dog and the mouse, for example, see the cat very differently. Some of my favorite illustrations were of how the bee, the worm and the, flea see it. Come check out our copy to see what a snake thinks of a cat!

 


Wet Cement: a mix of concrete poems

Concrete Poetry is poetry where the visual elements and typeface match the topic of the poem. In his latest poetry collection, Wet Cement, Bob Raczka shares the cleverest concrete poems (also called shape poems). Young poetry fans and their caregivers will be delighted by the topics, humor, wordplay, and imagery. It’s a perfect poetry collection for sharing with new readers and is oft requested at our house. It will make you laugh and think and hopefully inspire you to write some concrete poems of your own. My favorite line describes the Big Dipper constellation as a “vessel of stars, my brim overflowing with night.” For a more thorough review and information about writing and learning with concrete poems, visit School Library Journal.


The Princess and the Warrior, A Tale of Two Volcanoes

There have only been a few occasions where I have discovered an author that I would eventually become obsessed with.  Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is one of those authors.  I was so excited to read his latest children’s book, The Princess and the Warrior, A Tale of Two Volcanoes. In it, he retells the legend of the two great volcanoes overlooking Mexico City: Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl.  Once again Tonatiuh's artistic style successfully represents the legends, the people, the history, and the culture of Mexico.  

Tonatiuh is Mexican American and he grew up in both countries.  He has received well-deserved recognitions and awards for his works including the Pura Belpre’ Medal and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book Award. Now more than ever, it is important to continue to highlight diverse children’s books that promote pride, acceptance, and appreciation for all cultures. This book does all this and more.