Category Archives: Kids

Are You There, Judy Blume? It’s Me, Parish.

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Dear Judy,blume 1
Happy 78th birthday! I really wish you lived closer to me so that I could take you out to lunch and buy you a present, although nothing I could give you would remotely compare to the marvelous gifts that you have bestowed upon readers of all ages over your prolific and inspiring career. I mean, seriously—find me a woman in North America whose life as a young adult wasn’t made just a little bit better as a result of reading Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. (Although, I guess there are some unfortunate people out there who were deprived of the opportunity to read Margaret and Deenie and Forever, which in turn possibly inspired you to become an active proponent of the National Coalition Against Censorship.) I hope your day is as fantastic as your books. Blessings on you—

Stacy Parish, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin TN

(Author’s note: So, yeah. I have serious doubts that Judy Blume will ever read my birthday wishes to her, but I’m still going to put it out there. Doesn’t cost me anything.)

blume 2If you’ve read this far (bless your heart) and are wondering to yourself: Who is this Judy Blume that you speak of? Then please, Dear Reader, continue. Judy Blume, nee Judith Sussman, was born on February 12, 1938 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a suburban town just west of New York City to Esther and Rudolph Sussman, a homemaker and a dentist. Judy, as she preferred to be called, had a brother David, who was four years her senior and preferred to spend his free time working on mysterious and often volatile science experiments in the garage. Hence, she found herself being the one who entertained her parents and other family members with her games and performances, much like funny, charismatic Sally Freedman in Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself. In fact, Judy would again draw upon her own childhood experiences, seven years and seven books after publishing her award-winning Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret., as the basis for Sally, and her brother David as the model for Sally’s sardonic loner brother Douglas.

blume 3Judy Blume was a voracious reader as a child, and loved stories and books of all kinds. She says that she spent most of her childhood making up stories inside her own head, but no matter how much she read, she never found any characters in those books whose lives and experiences were relatable to her own. Books of that era were often “sanitized for your protection,” to borrow a phrase one of my coworkers uses frequently. That is, nobody had an agonizingly annoying little brother who went into their room and messed with their stuff and swallowed their turtle (a la Fudge, from Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing), nobody was bullied (Blubber), nobody started their period (Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret), and you can be absolutely certain that nobody ever wrote about their father being shot and killed in a convenience-store holdup (Tiger Eyes.)

blume 4After graduating from high school, Judy was accepted by and enrolled in Boston University, where she spent all of two weeks before contracting mononucleosis. She returned home to New Jersey and transferred later that year to New York University. Life for Judy, as it does for most of us, proceeded apace—during her junior year of college, she began dating John Blume and was soon engaged to be married; she lost her beloved father, whom she affectionately called “Doey-bird,” in July before her senior year; she married John later that summer; and by the time she graduated from college in 1961, she was pregnant with her first child. Her daughter Randy was born later that year, and two years after that, the family moved from their apartment in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a house a few miles away in Scotch Plains. While living there, Judy gave birth to their second child, a son they named Lawrence. (How fun is this–Judy has stated in interviews that Lawrence was the inspiration for the character named Fudge, and Lawrence directed the critically-acclaimed film adaptation of Tiger Eyes in 2012.)

blume 5As a young suburban homemaker, Judy didn’t enjoy the activities that the other wives and mothers did. Golf, tennis, and shopping held no charm for her, and as a result, Judy often found herself being bored. Determined to make her life more interesting and to flex her creative muscles that had atrophied since childhood, she tried for a time to write songs. When that didn’t work out, she started making crafts out of felt, but she found that quite unsatisfying and also developed an unfortunate rash from the craft glue. Then one fine day when she was twenty-seven, Judy received a brochure in the mail from her alma mater (NYU) that advertised a class on writing for children. She was already trying to write and illustrate children’s books, so this was a positive omen. Judy signed up for the class, and even took it again the following semester. Her patience and persistence paid off, and before her second semester ended, she had a few of her stories accepted for publication in a magazine and was paid the roaring sum of $20 per story. And the rest, as they say, is history. Her first full-length children’s book, The One In The Middle Is The Green Kangaroo, was published in 1969, and in the decades since, her novels for children and young adults have exceeded sales of 85 million copies and have been translated into 32 languages.

blume 6By the end of the 20th century, Judy’s original demographic of readers had grown up and had children of their own. Her books had extended from the first generation and were still popular with—and relevant to—the next one. Her original readers were also rewarded with several adult novels from Judy’s beautiful mind—Wifey (1978), Smart Women (1983), Summer Sisters (1999) and In The Unlikely Event (2015.) Just as with her children’s and young adult novels, these books all showcased Judy’s transcendent talent for chronicling family life and its convoluted, often messy, occasionally hysterical, events. She also published a nonfiction book, titled Letters To Judy: What Your Kids Wish They Could Tell You in 1986. Inspired by a 10-year-old girl named Amy, the purpose of the book was to illustrate what kids were thinking and feeling about different issues such as divorce, sex, drugs, suicide, et cetera, issues that kids might be hesitant to approach their parents about and parents in turn might be completely in the weeds for talking to their children about.

Lucky readers are we, as the delightful Judy Blume shows no signs of slowing down, even as she approaches her eighth decade on the planet, and that her books of such timeless quality have endured along with her. What a marvelous way to spend a winter afternoon, curled up with a cup of tea and some of the charming characters she brought us—Margaret, Deenie, Davey, Fudge, to name just a few. Happy birthday, Judy Blume! Mazel tov, and thank you.


Suggested reading and sources:

  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, Bradbury Press, 1970. (J F BLU)
  • Everything I Needed To Know About Being A Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O’Connell, Simon & Schuster, 2007. (813 EVE)
  • Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, Delacorte Press, 1988. (F BLU)
  • Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, Delacorte Press 1981. (J F BLU)
  • Who Wrote That? Judy Blume by Elisa Ludwig, Chelsea House Publishers, 2004. (J 92 BLUME)
  • Women Who Broke The Rules: Judy Blume by Kathleen Krull, Bloomsbury USA, 2015. (J 92 BLUME)
*The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and not intended in any way, shape, or form to influence anyone to trespass into their sibling’s room and swallow their pet. The author and her employer hereby absolve themselves of any such untoward behavior being emulated by WCPL patrons, their families, neighbors, classmates, yada yada yada.
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Remember, Remember, Picture Books in November (or December)

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

So, yeah. November is (WAS! says that shrill, nagging voice in my head that is remarkably similar to that of Howard’s mother from Big Bang Theory) National Picture Book Month. Having the great good fortune to be employed in the Children’s Department at WCPL, in addition to being the mom to two awesome kids, to whom and with whom I got to read thousands of picture books over the span of more than a decade and a half, gives me a pretty broad perspective on the genre. However, in the spirit of the holiday season, I have decided to give my colleagues the opportunity to share their feast of favorites with y’all. (Please note: This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t been able to put together a coherent sentence for the past month; it’s just me being generous and inclusive, I swear.) Hence, I posed the following query to a random sampling of some of my esteemed library co-workers: What is your favorite children’s book or picture book?

  • Julie Duke, Children’s Department Manager, WCPL: Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore by David McPhail is Julie’s favorite, because “Who doesn’t love a houseful of pigs gone hog wild?” The book is written in rollicking rhyme form and features fun, whimsical illustrations.

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  • Shifay Cheung, Circulation: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. “I love this book because it mentions food, and all those fun shapes and cutouts are just brilliant. I also love Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss because I love the rhyme and it of course mentions food.” I’m seeing a pattern emerging here, Shifay . . .

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  • Erin Holt, Teen Librarian: Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood. “I love owls, and this is such a sweet story about a curious little owl who stays awake one day when he should be sleeping instead, so that he can see how things work during the daytime.”

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  • Marcia Fraser, Special Collections: anything by Tomie dePaola. “Who can resist any of Tomie dePaola’s books? They were loved by my children and were definitely our favorites for reading aloud, as they were written to be told in the oral tradition. Strega Nona, Clown of God, Bill and Pete, Fin M’Coul are just a few of the standouts in the dePaola anthology. His books seem to hark back to the old world and are often written like folktales, with beautifully selected words to carry the story, stunning illustrations so rich in detail and color, and always a delicately disguised lesson or moral. DePaola’s books are classics in the world of Children’s literature, and rightly so.”

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  • Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian: Irene’s Wish by Jerdine Nolen. “Irene, like many children, wants more time with her dad, who is a hard-working and talented gardener. His job keeps him so busy that he doesn’t have a lot of time with the family. Irene knows that wishes can come true, so she wishes very hard and her wish does come true! However, as it sometimes is in the case of wishing, things are just a bit different than she expected.”

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  • Dolores Greenwald, Director, WCPL: “ My favorite children’s book is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Not only is fun and entertaining, but it teaches a lesson about not being closed-minded and critical. It is a great lesson and Dr. Seuss delivers it perfectly.”

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  • Jessica Dunkel, Reference: “My favorite picture book is This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.  It’s an underwater tale that follows a small fish who steals a bigger fish’s hat.  It’s a simple, funny story with cute fish characters, a great ending, and an even better message!”

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As for me, asking me to pick my favorite children’s picture book is like asking me to choose my favorite child. But I can narrow it down to two, for today (interestingly, also like picking my favorite child.) The first of these is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. With very limited resources (a purple crayon that never loses its sharpness, no matter how much he uses it), Harold creates a magnificent dreamscape full of beauty and excitement, and is able to keep his wits about him when faced with a situation such as too much delicious leftover pie from a picnic (“all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best”) which necessitates the creation of a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.

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My other favorite is Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are. Who among us hasn’t daydreamed about sailing away and becoming the King (or Queen!) of all wild things? This book inspired me from the first time I read it as a child, continued to do so into my 20s (the door to my room in my college sorority house during my senior year was adorned with replicas of Max’s wild friends, and a warning that there might be wild things lurking within), and then became one of my children’s favorites. Snobby bookworm disclaimer: I don’t like the movie adaptation very much. Hearing the late James Gandolfini’s voice makes me happy and sad at the same time.

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So there you have it. Our randomly assorted, in no particular order, today’s favorite but maybe not tomorrow’s, list of favorite picture books. I hope we have inspired you to come to the library and check out an armful. Also, this would be a most serendipitous time to mention that we have increased the checkout limit to 30 items per card! Come visit us soon and help us “Make It A Million,” i.e., one million items circulated this fiscal year. Take care, dear readers—


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and the coworkers she shamelessly glommed on to for help in completing her assignment. Also, just because I don’t like the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t mean that you can’t.

Comics and Graphic Novels 101

By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department

Comics and graphic novels. When I say those magic words, there are typically some pretty strong feelings evoked: I either receive rants and raves or wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’m here for those of you who may fall into the latter category. Maybe you hate them because you feel they aren’t “real” literature, because there’s absolutely no way cartoons can contain value. Maybe you hate them because your kid won’t read anything else. Or maybe you just hate them because you don’t know anything about them. So I’m here to provide you with a crash course in comics and graphic novels with the hope that hating them will no longer be your first reaction.walking dead

Comics vs. Graphic Novels: What’s the Difference?

Comic books are periodicals that contain a single story or a collection of stories, often featuring a continuing set of characters. Comic books are a form of sequential art, following a left-to-right, panel-to-panel reading convention and containing textual devices such as speech bubbles, captions, and onomatopoeia to convey dialogue, narration, and sound. Many American comic books involve adventure stories that incorporate elements of fantasy and science fiction. Superhero characters in comic books are especially popular. Some comic series have been merged into giant collections, like The Walking Dead, so they read more like a graphic novel.

A graphic novel is a book-length story that combines pictures and text. Graphic novels do resemble comic books, but they’re typically much longer than comic books with more serious subject matter. Many graphic novels do explore adult themes, but there are just as many graphic novels created specifically for children and young adults. Graphic novels are not necessarily novels—the format includes fictional stories, informational text, essays, reports, memoirs, biographies, and even poetry told using a combination of text and images following the panel-to-panel conventions of comics.

happy happy cloverWhere Does Manga Fit?

Manga are Japanese comics. The panels and text are read from right to left, and the reader turns the page in a right-to-left fashion as well. This can catch many readers off guard, but trust me, once you start, it’s easy to catch on. The art style of manga, however, differs drastically from its American counterpart. Manga characters are hyper-stylized, typically drawn with large eyes, small mouths, and giant heads of brightly colored hair. Emotions are exaggerated and can take over a character’s entire body.

Why Should We Read Them?

  • The first reason is obvious: Comics and graphic novels are fun! Why should reading be boring and miserable? It shouldn’t. Letting kids read something fun of their choosing gives them a sense of initiative and responsibility towards their own reading, and they’re less likely to view reading as a chore.
  • We live in a hyper-visual culture, and the visual sequences in comics and graphic novels just make sense to kids.
  • Kids use complex reading strategies when comic books and graphic novels. Readers must rely on dialogue and visual cues to infer what is not explicitly stated by a narrator, and they develop multiple literacies through the combination of pictures and text.
  • Comics and graphic novels are GREAT for reluctant readers. For kids who are intimidated by large amounts of text, the combination of text and images makes the book seem more accessible.
  • Personally, I read them when I want a more immersive, inclusive reading experience. I’ve found that some stories are just told better through a visual medium.

Which Ones Should I Read?

I’m glad you asked. If you’d like to know more about comics as a genre, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (call number YA 741.5 MACC) is a wonderful resource. Often used as a textbook in literature classes (I needed it a total of three times during my undergrad and graduate work. Three!), McCloud delves into nearly every historical and perceptual aspect of comics. As far as good comics and graphic novels to read, here is a basic list of some of my personal favorites for each age group that we have available here at WCPL.

Grades 2-4:lunch lady
Babymouse: Queen of the World! (J 741.5 HOL)
Squish: Super Amoeba (J 741.5 HOL)
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (J 741.5 KRO)
Chi’s Sweet Home (J 741.5952 KON)

Grades 5-6:amulet
Zebrafish (J 741.5 EME)
Roller Girl (J 741.5973 JAM)
Amulet: The Stonekeeper (J 741.5973 KIB)
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity (J 741.5973 ROM)

Grades 7-8:battling boy
Brain Camp (J 741.5 KIM, 7th and 8th shelf)
Chiggers (YA F LAR)
Battling Boy (J 741.5 POP, 7th and 8th shelf)
Drama (YA F TEL)

Grades 9-12:runaways
In Real Life (YA F DOC)
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (YA F OMA)
This One Summer (YA F TAM)
Runaways (YA F VAU)
The Shadow Hero (YA F YAN)

Adult:pleasant
Fun Home: An American Tragicomic (741.5973 PEC)
Over Easy (741.5973 PON)
Saga (741.5973 VAU)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (92 CHA)
Blankets (F THO)


Sources:

Celebrate National Hispanic Month with Some Great Books

By Liz Arrambide, Children’s Department

Celebrate National Hispanic Month Tues. Sept. 15 thru Thur. Oct. 15, 2015 with a few titles that will put an “¡Ole!” into your day!

 Picture Books:


  • 51rxLVjf+KL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems/ Aleto y Zumbido.: Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis
    This Poem book is “sabroso”, Mmmm! delicious! I can easily picture a child in my lap and each of us studying the wonderful detailed drawings and the animal poems that make us smile. It doesn’t matter if we are reading about a snake that only can say one letter “SSS” or a turtle that moves slowly so rubies and emeralds do not fall from her shell. In both English and Spanish the book is “muy rico”/ very rich with delightful illustrations to savor.
  • Green is a Chile Pepper: a Book of Colors and Round is a Torilla: a book of shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
    In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal.
  • 12629258Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/ Marisol McDonald no combina by /por Monica Brown.
    Marisol has flaming red hair like her Scotch American dad and nut brown skin like her Peruvian mom. She loves dressing in a wild mixture of polka dots and stripes. Peanut butter and jelly burritos are her favorite lunch food. One day she decides to dress and act like everyone else, so she will match. Is it worth making the change? A great bilingual English/Spanish read aloud for grades 1-3.
  • Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott
    This is based on an Aztec legend. The Lord of the Night was worried because the people worked all day and night in the dark. They did not laugh or sing. So the Lord of the Night asked the Wind to help free the Three Musicians from the Lord Sun. This is a well told and beautifully illustrated version of this Mexican legend.
  • 51uWJraipqL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Playing Loteria/ El juego de la Loteria by/ por Rene Colato Lainez.
    A Young boy from the U.S. is visiting his grandmother in Mexico. He only knows a little bit of Spanish and she speaks only a little bit of English. How will they be able to talk to each other? This is a lovely bilingual story where they learn each other’s language through the Mexican version of Bingo. This is called Lotería. They discover that loved ones have a special way of understanding each other.
  • Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup/ Caldo, Caldo, Caldo by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
    In Houston, Texas a family gets ready for Caldo Day. “Caldo de res” is a Mexican soup with lots of vegetables, potatoes, cilantro, stew meat and garlic. The special soup calms a cough, soothes sore muscles and makes everyone feel better. While mom makes the soup, the rest of the family buys the tortillas at the Tortillería, where tortillas are made. You can almost taste the fresh tortillas and delicious soup. A recipe for caldo is included. ‘¡Disfrute! Enjoy!
  • 514d1f6tGLL._SY489_BO1,204,203,200_Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty.
    Children from all over Peru come by bus, boat, train, truck and walking for the Sun King’s Festival in Cusco, Peru on June 24. They participate in the dancing, the parades and the wonderful parties. This is a beautiful book that shows the different areas of Peru.
  • Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Que Rico! By Pat Mora.
    North and South America grow delicious foods. When Columbus and other explorers brought to Europe some of these new foods, the people all gained needed weight and became healthier. Find out about some of these wonderful vegetables and fruits that started here in the Americas. These are described in short poems called haikus with brief descriptions of these foods; corn, blueberry, chile, chocolate and more! Yum!

Books for Grades 4-8:


  • 745387090 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis J F FLO Grades 5-8
    The author came to the U.S. in 1961 from Cuba with his two brothers. He was 9 years old and part of Operation Pedro Pan, where 14,000 children were sent to the United States without their parents to escape the Castro regime. This novel is based on his experience. This is a fascinating book.
  • Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan Grades 4-7.
    Naomi Soledad Leon is 11 and has been brought up by her grandmother. Life is not perfect, but she and her younger brother, who is slightly deformed, are doing fairly well in a trailer park in California. Then her alcoholic mother, who has been gone for 7 years returns with a no good boyfriend. Gran gets into the car and takes the two children on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in search her father who is a fine man. This way her daughter, will not have legal custody of the children. This gives an amazing look into life in Mexico.
  • 51tJBeYMESL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Enchanted Air: Two Cultures/ Two Wings by Margarita Engle. Grades 5-8
    This book of memoris is told through poems. Ms. Engle lived in Los Angeles and spent summers with her mother in Cuba. She finds herself divided because the two countries she loves are at war. Will her family in Cuba be alright after the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs? Ms. Engle was the first Latina to win a Newbery Honor with her book, Surrender Tree.
  • How Tia Lola Came to Visit/ Stay by Julia Alvarez. Grades 3-6.
    Miguel Guzman lives with his sister and mom in Vermont after the divorce. In comes a crazy aunt, his mother’s sister, from the country of the Dominican Republic. Miguel is afraid that his friends will meet his nutty aunt. In time, all of the town warm to Tía Lola, as she cooks exotic foods and learns English. The story is full of humor as Tía makes a lot of mistakes in her new language and her visit becomes permanent.
  • 51JJEm07KZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Revolution of Eveyln Serrano by Sonia Manzano. Grades 5-8.
    Written by the actress who plays Maria on Sesame Street, this is a very special inside view of what life was like in the Puerto Rican Part of New York City during the civil rights movement in 1969. Fascinating!
  • Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 miners from 2,000 feet below the Chilean desert by Marc Aronson J 363.11 ARO Grades 4-8.
    This is a true account of the miners that were trapped in 2010 in a copper mine in Chile. You’ll be amazed at the diagrams of the mine. There is only one safe place for the men in the miles of the mine. The world didn’t have the technology to save the men. They had to invent it. Oil drillers, astronauts, submarine specialists and experts around the world came together and tried different ways to get the men out. Whose way will work? Or will any of them be able to reach the men in time? A breath taking, true life thriller.
  • 51M7kugEI3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Under the Same Sky by Cynthis DeFelice Grades 5-8.
    Joe Pedersen’s family owns a large farm in New York State. The workers all are from Central America. Joe has never paid attention to the operation of the farm until he wants to earn money for a motorcycle. He learns a lot that summer as he picks strawberries and cares for cabbage along with the migrant workers who tend his farm. He realizes that life for his friends is far more complicated than he imagined. His life too becomes difficult because he wants to help, but he may have to break the law. A great read!

Welcome Launchpads!

By Margaret Brown, Technical Services Department

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WCPLtn is excited about our new Playaway Launchpad learning tablets for kids. These sturdy devices are pre-loaded with ten ad-free, high-quality learning apps that are fun and educational, and support learning objectives in school curricula. With a 7” high-definition touch screen, external speakers, and a durable protective bumper, these devices are perfect for kids ages 3 to 10+. The app packs are grouped by subject area, grade level, theme, and age. Each tablet is a new adventure. The avatar builder lets students design their own personal explorer. Discovery Points reward game play and can be used to purchase virtual accessories. One-touch reset makes it easy to pass from one explorer to the next. And the informational console gives educators analytics about time spent on tablet. These tablets are 100% secure. There is no risk of exposure to unintended content. Browse our collection of Launchpad tablets, and pick out the ones that are perfect for your kids.download2

No Summer Slacking! Six Sweet Selections To Savor Before September

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Below is the annotated—and sanitized– version of a conversation that took place in my kitchen, once upon a time. (Verbatim content has been carefully edited for appropriateness on a family-oriented website.)


Child: “But Mooooooooooom, it’s summer. I don’t want to read books in the summer.”

Me (interspersed epithets redacted for decorum’s sake): “Are you kidding me with this? You are aware of what I do for a living, right?”

Child: “Reading is so boring.” (strategic eye roll by child inserted here.)

Me: “Okay, I don’t even know who you are. And don’t roll your eyes at me.”

Child: “OMG. I hate reading.”

Me: “Well, now you’re just being hurtful.”

 

Hence, my attempt to prevent another parent from hearing those vile sentiments is manifested below in a short-but-sweet list of summer reads for kids. In no particular order:


6178UNtUYML._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Pete The Cat’s Groovy Guide To Life by Kimberly and James Dean. Personally, I aspire to be as cool and laid-back as Pete, and to have just a fraction of his unparalleled fashion sense. In this charming new book, Pete makes a personal interpretation of his favorite famous inspirational and feel-good quotes. For instance, Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and Pete distills that to “Go for it!” Books starring this brilliant blue feline generally range within a 1st-2nd grade reading level but are appropriate and enjoyable for readers of all ages.

 

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10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. Duck overboard! Well, ten of them, to be precise, accidentally tossed from a freighter out into the sea by a raging storm. Each one of them floats off on a journey to a different part of the big wide world, making friends with animals along the way. The tenth little duck gets the best ending of all. Carle’s signature cut-paper collage style, combined with a sweet story, makes for a lovely counting adventure. AR level 2.4.

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13 Words by Lemony Snicket. Feeling a little triskaidekaphobic? (Yes, it’s a thing.   Go look it up. Do I sound like somebody’s mother?) Let this whimsical and striking little adventure help you get over it, just as 13 words such as “haberdashery” and “panache” help the main character, a quirky blue bird, get over his despondency. AR level 3.5.

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo. A precious tale by the Newbery award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses. Edward, a remarkable yet arrogant rabbit, teaches us that even the coldest heart can learn to love, to endure loss, and to love again. The story alone soars from DiCamilo’s talent, but the stunning illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline take this book to another level of kid-lit. AR level 4.4

 

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Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Precocious 12-year-old Ben Ripley takes a “leave of absence” from his public middle school to attend the Central Intelligence Agency’s super-secret Espionage Academy, which is billed to the general population as an elite science school. This fast-paced, charming book is the first in a series, which continues with Spy Camp and Evil Spy School. AR level 5.3.

 

61zvD2jvP4L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey. When siblings Dorrie and Marcus chase Moe, an ill-tempered mongoose (is that redundant?), into the custodian’s closet in their local public library, they discover something that many of you may already know; to wit, librarians are not a group to be trifled with. This secret cabal of blade-slinging, sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-stopping warrior librarians has a mission: protect those whose words get them into trouble, anywhere in the world and at any time in history. Dorrie and Marcus go on a fantastic adventure and make lots of new friends along the way, and the book ends with the door wide open to a sequel. AR level 5.8.

 

Happy reading!


(Opinions, implied profanity, and suggested readings are solely those of the author and should not be considered a reflection on other WCPL employees. The author also does not advocate young patrons running into the janitor’s closet at the library. If your mongoose gets away from you, please ask an adult for assistance.)

Hooray, Hooray for Father’s Day! 9 Great Books Celebrating Dad

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Let us now praise . . . Dear Old Dad! Yes, that fixer of bicycle chains and broken hearts. That guy, who ferried you and your giggly girlfriends to the skating rink or the mall, and reluctantly agreed to let you out of the car a little ways down the sidewalk so that you wouldn’t be seen climbing out of a very uncool Dadmobile. The fellow who coached your youth soccer team and took everyone out for ice cream afterward, rain or shine, win or lose. The man who escorted you down the aisle and tried valiantly not to let you or anyone else see the tears in his eyes. The one who will always be there for you, and for his grandchildren.

Here, in no particular order, are nine great books that celebrate Dad.


Tad And Dad by David Ezra Stein. Tad the Tadpole just loves spending every minute with his super cool awesome dad, including sharing his lily pad for sleeping. But when Tad begins to grow bigger, the lily pad starts to become a bit crowded. What to do? Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s sweet story of familial love will amuse and delight, and may look a little bit like your own life.  1

 

Kevin And His Dad by Irene Smalls. This Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner chronicles a day Kevin and his father spend tidying the house, doing some repairs, playing ball, seeing a movie, having milkshakes, and just sharing each other’s company. It is a graceful and powerful celebration of the bond that exists between boys and their dads.2

 

Dad and Pop: An Ode To Fathers and Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett. The protagonist of this story is a very lucky girl indeed. She has a father and a stepfather who are very different in many ways, but they share one trait without question: they both love her very much.3

 

Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. Horton the Elephant sat and sat on the egg Mayzie the Bird laid (and abandoned) because “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” Horton’s patience and love is rewarded a thousandfold by the creature that hatches out of the egg that he protected and nurtured. Pure magic!4

 

How To Cheer Up Dad by Fred Koehler. Little Jumbo’s dad is having a bad day, and LJ has no idea why (hint: it’s LJ’s own mischief-making that is causing Dad’s consternation.) Fortunately he does know how to cheer Dad right up. Fred Koehler’s whimsical debut is a lovely tribute to fathers everywhere, and to their own high-octane Little Jumbos.18079483

 

Dad Runs Away With The Circus by Etgar Keret. In this wildly imaginative picture book, Audrey and Zach’s father joins the circus, travels the world, and becomes a star. Dad’s message to Audrey and Zach: you’re never too old to follow your dreams. This is the debut children’s book by acclaimed Israeli writer Keret.6

 

Rock On, Mom & Dad! (A Pete The Cat book) by James Dean. Pete’s mom and dad are total rock stars, as they do so much for him. But how can he show them how much he appreciates and loves them? His rockin’ surprise is a result of Pete discovering that it’s not what you do, but how you do it, that matters–as long as it’s from the heart.7

 

My Dad The Magnificent by Kristy Parker. Seems like no matter how cool your dad is, there’s always someone whose dad is just a little bit cooler. When Buddy’s new friend Alex brags about his firefighter dad, Buddy can’t resist being drawn into the game of one-upsmanship and invents a new and increasingly exotic persona for his dad each day for a week. At the end of the story, Buddy realizes that his plain old dad is pretty magnificent, even if he wears a business suit instead of bunker pants.51qp0BtQYrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. More graphic short story than traditional children’s picture book, this witty and whimsical book by the author of Coraline explores what can happen when you want something so badly that you’re willing to trade your own father for it . . . and then what happens when Mom gets home and learns what you’ve done.8

Thanks for reading. Happy Father’s Day to one and all—


(As always, the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and in no way reflect upon the beliefs and principles of Williamson County Public Library, its employees, or their fathers.)

The WCPL Children’s Department and the Terrific, Fantastic, Very Good, Not Bad Suggested Summer Reading List

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Yeah, my humble apologies to Judith Viorst for so shamelessly ripping off her title like that.horrible

Why should kids read during the summer? Because I said so. Because the experts said so. Because it’s fun. Because you can score some cool prizes from us, just for reading a few books, listening to a book on CD, and attending any (or all!) of the fabulous special programs we have at Main and all branches. (More about that in a minute.)

What should kids read during the summer? I’m so glad you asked. Start off in May with Faulkner, ease on into some Chaucer for June, and then progress to Tolstoy by July. (Yes, I’m kidding.) If you have an avid reader child at home, you really don’t even have to ask that question, because more than likely they already know what they want to read. It’s tempting to recoil in horror if your kid wants to plow through the popular ones such as Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series or Jeff Kinney’s wildly successful Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books. My personal un-favorites when my kids were younger were the Junie B. Jones books by the late Barbara Park. Junie B.’s atrocious grammar and obnoxious behavior pushed me to the outer limits of my patience every time I read them with my younger daughter, which was nightly for what seemed like a millennium but was really only a few months. (Disclaimer: my fellow University of Alabama alumna Barbara Park was a tremendously talented and wonderful human being and is greatly missed by the kiddie-lit world.) Whether you have a ravenous reader or a reluctant reader at home, the song remains the same: whatever it is, if it gets them engaged, go with it. However, if you still need some suggestions (and you’re still reading this blog, bless your heart), here are a few selections by staff members of the WCPL Children’s Department to get your summer started:

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. AR level 1.0.
After swallowing a watermelon seed, a crocodile imagines disastrous results. Bold colors and whimsical writing make this a fun choice for the picture-book set.watermelon

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. AR level 2.8.
Henry loves to eat books and is on his way to becoming the smartest person in the world, until he starts feeling quite ill and decides maybe he could do something else with all those books he’s been (literally) devouring.boy

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse. AR level 3.6.
A young girl anxiously awaits a rainstorm to bring relief from an oppressive summer drought.rain

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. AR level 4.7.
The first book in a series chronicles the unforgettable summer that four spirited girls have with their widowed father in the Berkshires. A National Book Award winner.penderwicks

Half Magic by Edward Eager. AR level 5.0.
Facing the prospect of another dull summer in the city, four children suddenly find themselves caught up in some extraordinary adventures after discovering a coin that grants wishes. This series continues in Magic By The Lake.magic

How Tia Lola Saved The Summer by Julia Alvarez. AR level 5.5.
Miguel is not thrilled that a family with three daughters will be living with them for the summer. Luckily, Miguel’s aunt has some tricks up her sleeve guaranteed to take this summer from worst to first.tia

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. AR level 5.5.
The first book in the phenomenal series, in which Harry Potter finds himself rescued from a grim and joyless life with his insufferable aunt, uncle, and cousin and transported to the fantastic wizarding world of Hogwarts.harry

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. AR level 7.0. 
Fifteen-year-old Will reluctantly becomes an apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt and winds up protecting the entire kingdom from danger. This is the first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.apprentice

All these fabulous titles, and thousands more, are available to be checked out from Williamson County Public Library. Oh, and while you’re there (remember earlier when I mentioned cool prizes?) sign your child up to participate in the 2015 Summer Reading Program. It’s fun, it’s fabulous, it’s free. Happy reading!


** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.

Making the Most of the Online Kid’s Page: TEL4U

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Assistant

The Kid’s Page has some very helpful homework tools, such as TEL4U.1

You can use TEL4U to answer questions like the following:

  1. What if I need access to a good source of information like the World Book Encyclopedia?
  2. Is there an encyclopedia that plays to the level of younger students?
  3. Is there a place I can find games for children to play?
  4. Is there a place for phonics? I want my child to practice sounding out words and practicing phonics skills.
  5. Where can I go to get Homework Help?

 

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1. What if I need access to a good source of information like the World Book Encyclopedia?2

No problem. Go to the free online source on the Kids Page from the Tennessee Library Association called TEL4U. Check out the Home Screen below which shows links to eBooks, Homework Helpers, Look it Up, Tennessee State History, and Games & Activities. This is especially for grades K – 5. (For older children notice the Teenagers link.) The easiest way to get into the World Book Encyclopedia is to click on Look It Up and then choose World Book Student. Enter a word or phrase to find articles on what interests you.

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2. Is there an encyclopedia that plays to the level of younger students?

Younger students, K thru 2nd grade might enjoy getting to their age friendly Encyclopedia through eBooks and the Early World of Learning. To get to the Encyclopedia, Click on eBooks and open the first eBook called “Early World of Learning.”3

The link opens into a delightful Early World of Learning page with things to Read, Play, Watch, and to Print & Do. These are full of information and of interest. And don’t miss clicking on the frog. But to get to the illustrated Encyclopedia, go to the bottom left of the Early World of Learning page and click on Worldbook Products.4

After clicking on World Book Products, choose the top right option: Info Finder.5

Info Finder opens into the Encyclopedia. Enjoy browsing the many options.6

Bonus: What happens when I click on the Early World of Learning frog?7

It takes us to Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Story Corner!8

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3. Is there a place I can find games for children to play?
TEL4U has a link called Games & Activities for several sites with games.games

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4. Is there a place for phonics? I want my child to practice sounding out words and practicing phonics skills.
Yes. The Starfall.com site under ebooks.10

From the TEL4U homepage click on eBooks. Then choose Starfall.com.

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5. Where can I go to get Homework Help?
Click on Homework Helpers from TEL4U home page. This opens access to four sites that offer help with homework.12

What’s in the databases for homework help?

A) The Internet Public Library for Kids aims to be online information you can trust.13

B) The World Book Kids is a geat place to start. See info above on encyclopedias.
C) The Learning Express Library is very popular with adults, but it also has homework practice in math skills and reading comprehension for elementary students.14

D) Kids InfoBits is an exciting database designed especially for students in kindergarten through grade 5. It is part of the TEL4U site, but also has its own direct link on the Library Kids page.15

For instance, a student could click on Music and Movies, then choose Popular Movies. The student would then see the list of movies which are covered as seen below.16

If the student chose “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the following information would be seen:17

If the student chooses to learn about People, the following would appear as options:18

In addition to the above options, there are also other areas for study.
Students will benefit from this accessible database for homework assignments or simply browsing from curiosity.19

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Reflections on Children’s Poetry, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Lorax

By Stacy Parish, Children’s DepartmentShel_Silverstein_-_Where_the_Sidewalk_Ends

One day several years ago, when my children were small, it occurred to me that perhaps I was letting them watch too much television. I had this particular epiphany after an episode of Teletubbies led me to idly speculate what sort of expensive pharmaceutical usage had led to the invention of the aforementioned pudgy nonsense-spouting creatures, and if the ensuing commercial success of the Teletubbies then enabled the program’s creators and producers to be able to afford more of whatever controlled substance had been instrumental in bringing Dipsy, Po, Laa Laa, and Tinky-Winky into existence. And then there’s Caillou. (Which translates to “small smooth pebble” in French. You’re welcome.) Do not get me started on that whiny, round-headed little twerp. * Even hearing his name all these years later makes me immediately start casting around for a sharp object. If an animated children’s television show inspires such sinister thoughts, it’s probably not a great idea to let your kid watch a ton of it.

I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet—

And you know what I tell you is true.

He loved to watch his TV set

Almost as much as you.

                                                     –Shel Silverstein

 I’ve always been a bookworm, and I read to my kids (okay, technically I suppose I was reading to my burgeoning midsection, but you know what I mean) even before they entered the world, but maybe it was time to step it up a notch from Eric Carle and Lucy Cousins to something a little loftier. Poetry? What a great idea!

Between the dark and the daylight,

When the night is beginning to lower,

Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,

That is known as the Children’s Hour.

                                           –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So. Where to begin? At the library, of course, after a brief detour to the local ice cream parlor. (It’s merely a suggestion. If you prefer active culture frozen yogurt with organic mix-ins, go for it. Just don’t judge me.) Here we go–Shakespeare, Silverstein, Seuss. Nesbitt and Nash. Milne, Moore, Millay. Prelutsky and Poe. In case you’re wondering, and I really hope you aren’t, those beautiful, haunting verses created by Edgar Allan Poe may ignite a fire in your adult soul but are generally not appropriate for– or amusing to– your average preschooler. That old saw about knowing your audience definitely holds true when diving into the poetry pool with your child. In other words, if you decide to make a foray into poetry with your kiddo, don’t overthink it. Whether you choose The Giving Tree or Green Eggs and Ham, or something else entirely, enjoy the exploration of a new genre with your child. And . . .

When called by a panther/Don’t anther.

                                                          –Ogden Nash

Suggested sources for children’s poetry, in no particular order:

  • Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
  • The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash
  • Shout! Little Poems That Roar by Brod Bagert
  • Here’s a Little Poem collected by Jane Yolen
  • Treasury of Poetry selected by Alistair Hedley

 

*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.

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