Don’t you love Mr. and Mrs. Mallard? They work so hard to find the perfect place
to build a nest and raise their ducklings; Robert McCloskey’s life-like
illustrations are perfect. Make Way for Ducklings has been a
favorite at our house for a long time. Recently
I’ve seen two other “duckling” books that are such nice companions for the
Mallard family. . . Little Ducks Go
by Emily Arnold McCully, and Lucky
Ducklings by Eva Moore. Take a look
at these recent books and share them with the duckling-lovers at your
Emmanuel’s Dream, written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls, tells the true story of Ghanaian athlete Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with only one healthy leg (the other was severely deformed). Where Emmanuel grew up, most kids with disabilities couldn’t go to school, but Emmanuel hopped back and forth two miles each way. He also played soccer and learned to ride a bike – in fact, he became famous after he cycled 400 miles across Ghana, raising awareness that people with disabilities can still greatly contribute to society. My 5 year-old daughter enjoyed this story and the illustrations very much. I highly recommend checking out the list of books in our catalog by illustrator Sean Qualls -- his artwork is exquisite!
A young boy loves to frequent the Bronx Zoo but feels very sad
when he sees the plight of animals living in empty cages and barren rooms.
These feelings are especially intense when he visits the jaguar exhibit. Seeing
these big, majestic cats living in unnatural, desolate surroundings makes him
want to change both his and their futures. And he sets out to do just that.
A Boy and a Jaguar,
is the inspiring autobiographical account of Alan Rabinowitz, who through his love of animals,
managed to overcome a personal obstacle that seemed overwhelming at first.
Alan is a stutterer. During his childhood years, he sometimes
had his head and body shake so uncontrollably when attempting to speak, that his
teachers placed him in a class for disturbed kids and pronounced to his parents
that, “He is broken”.
However, there are two ways that Alan can verbally
communicate without stuttering. One is to sing, and the other is to talk to animals.
He starts off by telling his pet hamster, gerbil, turtle, chameleon and green
garter snake about his dreams and they seem to listen to him. He also promises
that if he ever finds his voice, he will also be their voice, and that no harm
will come their way. He then goes to the Bronx Zoo great cat house and
“fluently” whispers the same vow to the resident jaguar through the cage bars.
When he starts college, he is enrolled in an experimental
program for stutterers which relieves him of his speech impediment, but not his
continuing feelings of being somehow broken on the inside.
Pursuing his passionate interest in animals, Alan prepares
for a career as a wildlife conservationist. He hikes the Smoky
Mountains to study black bears, and then
lands in Belize
to study his favorite species, the jaguar, in it’s natural habitat.
Jaguars are severely threatened by human encroachment into
their jungle environment. Alan decides to use his new found voice to help the
big cats. He presents his case to save the jaguars from hunters directly to Belize’s Prime Minister. And his
fifteen minute presentation produces success! His wish that the world’s first
jaguar preserve be established in the country, comes true.
I love the message that this book delivers about people and
animals who can’t speak for themselves. Complimenting the story are Catia
Chien’s colorful and evocative illustrations that deliver just the right amount
of visual dynamism.
A little book with a big hearted message that should be thoroughly
enjoyable for readers of all ages.
Since overcoming his stutter, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz has
dedicated his life to wildlife conservation. He is also a spokesperson for the
Stuttering Foundation of America.
For more information visit www.panthera.org
and www.stutteringhelp.org .
This is sort of a fun read for those who may be looking for
a bit of a darker read but aren’t really ready for something scary. The head mistress of a ladies’ finishing
school and her brother are poisoned and rather than report the crime to the
local police the seven students decide to hide it in an effort to avoid being
sent home and separated from each other.
Disgraceful Mary Jane, Sly Kitty, and Stout Alice (each girl has a
moniker) haphazardly cobble together a cover up while Pocked Louise sets her
sights on finding the killer. The
Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is an interesting read for anyone
who enjoys murder mysteries with female protagonists.
Kamara had a hard day at school. One of the boys called her
names and used some nasty words talking about her. The one bright spot is that
she is on her way to gramma’s house. Kamara knew that gramma would make her feel
better. And gramma did. Gramma sent Kamara to clean the mirror upstairs. It was
a mirror that had been passed down from her great grandmother to her
grandmother and it turned out to be a magic mirror. When Kamara started rubbing
the mirror she saw another young girl’s eyes staring back at her. Through the eyes of women throughout the past
centuries Kamara was able to see the violence, hatred and poverty that women of
color have faced throughout history. Through it Kamara sees humiliation and
determination. She sees pride, beauty and courage.
There is a lot of history in this very small book. In The Magic Mirror Zetta Elliott does an amazing job of teaching history and courage.
She sends the message to young girls that they are not alone.
In Float we have a wordless picture book about a boy, a folded paper boat, and a storm. Even without words, though, we also have a story about creation, play, loss, comfort, delight, and tenderness.
Take a close look at this small book and then marvel at how Daniel Miyares can give us a complete story with only his wonderful pictures.
Swing Sisters: the Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a new picture book written by Karen Deans and illustrated by Joe Cepeda, tells the story of the first racially integrated, all-female swing band in the United States. The Sweethearts' story begins with the founding, in 1909, of the Piney Woods Country Life School for African-American orphans in Mississippi. In 1939 the school's founder, Laurence Clifton Jones, started a school band that he thought could help raise money for the school. By the 1940s the band was traveling across the country and, in 1945, even played a six-month tour in Europe for American troops stationed there. The band grew to include girls and women of different racial backgrounds, including Chinese, Mexican, Native American, and white. Because of Jim Crow laws barring socialization between different races, this was a dangerous prospect when the band played in southern states.
Swing Sisters is a great introduction to this unique American treasure. If you want to hear the music of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, you can download some of their hits from Freegal with your library card.
When Fraser Met Billy
is an engaging true account written by Louise Booth, the mother of two kids;
Fraser and Pippa.
When Fraser was just several months old, Louise was aware
that her son was not completely normal. Her intuitions are confirmed when at 18
months, Fraser is diagnosed with autism. Besides this, he also has hypotonia, a
rare muscular disorder that makes his joints loose.
At an early age, Fraser finds it difficult to communicate, often
has tantrums, emotional meltdowns and easily withdraws into his own private
world. Depending on the circumstances with which he is confronted, his behavior
is unpredictable and volatile. Fraser begins speech and behavioral treatment,
but his therapists soon come to the conclusion that Fraser will never attend a
normal, mainstream school. This is devastating news to Louise and her husband
Prior to this crisis, the Booth family had always loved cats.
In fact, they share their space with an aging cat named Toby, who is mostly preoccupied
with sleeping and eating. Louise starts wondering if a much younger pet would
prove to be a positive influence on Fraser; a “special” friend of sorts that
her son could interact with and bond.
Shortly thereafter, the parents contact the Cat Protection
League. A caregiver there senses that one of two identical cats, Billy or Bear,
found together earlier in an abandoned house, might make a good fit for Fraser.
Prior to meeting the cats, Fraser studies their photos and
keeps these by his bed. Unlike most adults, he is right away able to distinguish
between the two. When Fraser and his parents meet the cats at the rescue, he instantly
latches onto Billy. Upon arriving home, he declares that “Billy is going to be
Fraser’s very best friend”, a statement that truly predicted their present and
future relationship in more ways than one.
The two become inseparable and this rescue cat transforms
Fraser’s life. As Louise puts it “Billy had the ability to enter Fraser’s own,
private universe, a place that none of us could penetrate. It had made that
universe a less lonely place for Fraser but not only that; it had encouraged
him to venture out of it so that he was more and more part of our world”.
As time goes by, Fraser is able to enroll into a mainstream
school and is currently doing remarkably well.
I found this book difficult to put down. I read it in two
sittings and love its reaffirmation of the power of the animal/human bond;
something that can never be overestimated.
Today marks the 48th anniversary of legal protection for interracial families and their right to marry throughout the nation. The landmark case, Loving V. Virginia (1967) and the story behind it, has recently been transformed into an illustrated children's book called The Case for Loving: the fight for interracial marriage. Sound interesting? Check out the HBO-produced documentary about this significant legal case and its historical importance.
The Scraps Book; Notes from a Colorful Life
By Lois Ehlert
Lois Ehlert is a “go to” author for preschool picture books, children really like her books. Lois is an artist and a writer and she has a passion for the importance of early literacy. She uses an art technique called collage which means she cuts out scraps of paper, fabric, real objects, painted objects, photographs, and then she assembles and glues them into place onto a background resulting in an image. KPL has many of Lois’ books.
Children love to identify exactly what “part” is used in making a picture, such as, what is the snow girl’s mouth made from? What is the snow boy’s nose made from? Lois finds her ideas for books from the world around her… gardens, shopping at the market, watching fish at an aquarium, a squirrel who ran into her home… Lois finds free art supplies from Mother Nature when she goes for walks… “I keep my eyes open. An idea may be close by. “
After Lois writes a story, she sketches out the entire book to decide what to illustrate on each page. Not only does Lois write a story, but she also has very appealing artwork for youngsters. Lois relays that her mother shared many colorful fabric scraps, buttons, lace, ribbons with Lois and her dad gave her woods scraps and taught Lois how to paint, saw, and pound nails. Lois was given an old table for doing her artwork and she even took it to college with her! Lois grew up in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and now lives in Milwaukee. This is a great line from her biography: Why did I choose to be an artist? I think it’s the other way around. Art chose me.