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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.

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It’s The Greatest Comic Strip Ever, Charlie Brown!

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

See what I did there with the title? And if you don’t, then you may have been living under a rock similar to the ones that Charlie Brown used to get in his trick-or-treat bag on Halloween. For the uninitiated, Peanuts is a syndicated comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz that made its debut on October 2, 1950 in nine American newspapers: The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Tribune, The Allentown Morning Call, The Bethlehem Globe-Times, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, The New York World-Telegram & Sun, and the Boston Globe. Original strips ran daily and Sundays until February 13, 2000, and at its peak, Peanuts appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide and was translated into 21 languages. The four-panel format set the standard for comic strips, and combined with other media and merchandise, Peanuts earned Schulz more than $1billion in his lifetime. Reprints are still syndicated and run in almost every U.S. newspaper.

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The debut strip from October 2, 1950. From left to right: Charlie Brown, Shermy, and original Patty.

 

Peanuts originated from a weekly panel comic called Li’l Folks that appeared in Schulz’s hometown newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, from 1947 to1950. In addition to a round-headed kid that evolved into Charlie Brown, the early strip also featured a little dog that resembled the early 1950s version of Snoopy. Li’l Folks was dropped in early 1950, and later that year Schulz approached United Feature Syndicate with a collection of his best work. A deal was accepted, but a name change for the new strip was necessary in order to avoid confusion with two existing comic strips, Al Capp’s Li’l Abner and a comic titled Little Folks. The syndicate settled on Peanuts as the name for the new strip, and it was a name that Schulz always disliked. (Author’s random thought: I wonder if he got over that, when his earnings from Peanuts climbed into the millions.)

The final daily original Peanuts comic strip, in which Schulz announced his retirement, was published on Monday, January 3, 2000. It contained a farewell note to readers from Schulz, and had an illustration of Snoopy deep in thought atop his doghouse with his iconic typewriter. Schulz had drawn 5 extra Sunday strips which had yet to run, and the last-ever of these was published on February 13, 2000, the day after Schulz’s death at age 78 from complications from colon cancer. It incorporated a colorized version of Schulz’s farewell strip from January 3, several drawings from past strips, and the sweet note to Schulz’s faithful readers.

Final Peanuts Sunday strip, issued February 13, 2000, one day after the death of creator Charles M. Schulz.

Final Peanuts Sunday strip, issued February 13, 2000, one day after the death of creator Charles M. Schulz.

 

Despite the end of the strip, Peanuts remains popular throughout multiple platforms –syndicated strips in daily and Sunday newspapers, television specials, books, theatrical productions, apparel and other merchandise, board games, amusement park characters, and perhaps the largest single venue of them all: the MetLife Insurance Company blimps, christened “Snoopy One” and “Snoopy Two.”

I have to confess, that in addition to having that pervasive earworm of a song in my head while I wrote this—you know, the song that Schroeder played on his magical piano in A Charlie Brown Christmas, that all the gang did their righteous dance moves to—I also had Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” in my head. According to a 1986 interview by Seger in Creem magazine, that song is about people who set their goals so low that they never achieve anything of substance. It occurs to me that Peanuts’ central character, Charlie Brown, does just the opposite of that. He can’t fly a kite, win a baseball game, talk to the little red-haired girl without freaking out, or kick the football that Lucy heartlessly pulls away Every. Single. Time. Yet, against the mountain of evidence that suggests that the results will be the same, he keeps trying. He doesn’t give up. He perseveres.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and not a reflection of Williamson County Public Library or its employees. She can occasionally be found sitting behind a desk in the Children’s Department offering psychiatric help, but she is no longer allowed to charge 5 cents for her services.

 

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.)

Most Memorable Literary Dads

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Greetings, Darling Readers. Take a moment, please and thank you, and re-read that title, and take note that it doesn’t say “Best Literary Dads,” “Most Lovable Literary Dads,” or even “Exemplary Human Beings of the Male Persuasion Who Happen To Have Fathered A Child.” To further belabor the point—some of the entrants on this list (see the author’s disclaimer at the end of this article) will never be considered for the Father Of The Year Award and as such, you’d be better served to find another source of reference for good parenting skills. In no particular order:

Rick Grimeswalking dead
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman.

Rick tops my personal list of memorable literary dads for a couple of reasons. Not only is he doing the single-dad thing, but he’s doing it in a post-apocalyptic world while also being the de facto leader of a ragged group of survivors. Seriously, you think hauling your kid to guitar practice once a week is a big deal? Try doing it while being pursued by flesh-eating zombies.

road“The Man/ The Father”
The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Coming in at number two on my list is another post-apocalyptic dad. The Man (also called The Father), like Rick Grimes, is doing everything he can to keep his son alive in the barren wasteland that America has become. Stark and haunting, this story of the bond between The Father and The Boy is one that will resonate with the reader for a long time to come.

Arthur Weasley
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling.harry potter

Arthur may come across to some readers as a more laid-back dad, content to let his wife Molly take the lead on child-rearing (and in particular, disciplinary) matters in the wild and wonderful Weasley household, but he is undeniably a kind and loving dad to his own red-haired brood of witches and wizards as well as a fine father figure to young Harry Potter.

Jack Torrance
The Shining by Stephen King.

shiningMany of you may be more familiar with Jack Nicholson’s brilliant and beautifully unhinged performance in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, but the literary Jack was certainly a dad who leaves a lasting impression. Sure, he had a whole herd of demons in his head to deal with, as well as the ones inhabiting the Overlook Hotel, and he tried to kill his son Danny at their urging, but what else are you going to do when you’re a recovering alcoholic who has taken a job as a caretaker of a haunted, snowbound hotel?

Horton the Elephant
Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss.4

When the flighty (you should pardon the pun) Mayzie the bird lays an egg but can’t be bothered to go the parental distance to seeing it hatched and takes off on an extended vacation to Palm Beach, Horton takes on the role of mother and father to the egg. Even after Horton is captured and put in a traveling circus, he still won’t abandon his charge. “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful—one hundred percent!” Horton’s parental love and patience is rewarded a thousandfold when his egg hatches.

Don Vito Corleonegodfather
The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

The patriarch of the Corleone clan may have had a few moral shortcomings, but as evidenced by his quote “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” he most certainly loved his children. Let’s just overlook the fact that his love imperiled his children and led to the deaths of two of them. Hey, nobody ever said life in a mafia family was a walk in the park.

Humbert Humbert
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

(OK, remember that part in the intro when I said this list was about memorable fathers, not good ones?) Humbert Humbert is not merely a bad stepfather to Dolores; he is thoroughly, unadulteratedly evil. His vile obsession with the 12-year-old child he privately nicknamed Lolita destroys her childhood and ultimately, her life.

learKing Lear
King Lear by William Shakespeare.

Old King Lear was a silly old dear. In a completely misguided plan to determine which of his daughters loved him best, and would therefore inherit his kingdom, he is driven to madness. (Note to self: I wonder if his daughters were teenagers.)

Allie Fox
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux.mosquito

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Fox’s dad Allie is a brilliant yet slightly unhinged inventor who has had just about enough of American consumerism. He moves his family from suburban Massachusetts to the eponymous Mosquito Coast in Honduras. (Spoiler alert!) Allie is killed by a religious zealot named Spellgood, but before his untimely death, he invents this really cool ice-making machine.

Colonel Wilbur “Bull” Meecham
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy.santini

Inspired by Conroy’s own experiences growing up in a military family, this powerful and immensely readable novel is told from the viewpoint of Bull’s son Ben and chronicles the complicated relationship between them. The lengths to which Ben goes to earn the love and acceptance of his father, “A warrior without a war,” is at times heart-wrenching, but it is clear that Bull Meecham loves his family with the same fierce passion that he loves his country and the United States Marine Corps.

Atticus Finchmockingbird
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Yes, I saved the best for last. Atticus Finch is the absolute acme of parenthood—he is kind, dignified, brave, and loyal. He holds tight to his principles, even when it comes at a tremendous cost. It is nearly impossible not to be inspired by Atticus’ quiet yet steely strength.

 

So, Dearest Readers, if you’ve made it this far, bless your heart, and thank you from the bottom of mine. Regardless of your location or your circumstances, may you all have a blessed Father’s Day. Happy reading—


(***Same as it ever was—the opinions and viewpoints expressed here are solely those of the author and are in no way reflective of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, or their fathers.)

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.

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.

Say Hooray, Hooray For Dr. Seuss Today!

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

Would you read it in the car?

Would you read it over thar?

Everyone from near and far

Will enjoy Seuss’ latest star.

Although Theodor “Ted” Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, passed away more than two decades ago, his unique and enduring talent keeps yielding amazing treasures. According to the publisher Random House, Geisel’s widow Audrey was remodeling their home after his death in 1991 when she found a box filled with pages of his writing and sketches. It was set aside and rediscovered 22 years later, in the fall of 2013 by Audrey Geisel and Claudia Prescott, Ted’s longtime secretary and friend. Among other work, they found the complete text and illustrations for What Pet Should IGet?

Told in Dr. Seuss’ signature rhyming style and featuring the same brother and sister from his 1960 classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, the tale perfectly captures the childhood milestone of choosing a pet and also underscores a valuable life lesson: making a choice can be really hard, but sometimes you just have to persevere. An added bonus to What Pet Should I Get? is an epilogue by the editor that discusses Dr. Seuss’ creative process, his interest in animals, and the fabulous “Seussian” creatures throughout his work.

suessAfter Ted died of cancer at the age of 87, Audrey was placed in charge of all publishing and licensing matters, and she remains a fierce guardian of her late husband’s legacy. “While undeniably special, it is not surprising to me that we found this because Ted always worked on multiple projects and started new things all the time—he was constantly writing and drawing and coming up with ideas for new stories,” said Audrey in a statement on the website Seussville.com. “It is especially heartwarming for me as this year also marks twenty-five years since the publication of the last book of Ted’s career, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

What Pet Should I Get? will be published by Random House Children’s Books on July 28, 2015. Of course, you can celebrate this prolific and amazing author at any time by stopping in the Children’s Department at WCPL and checking out our selection of Dr. Seuss titles.

Read them, read them, you will see

They are fun as fun can be!

What To Read After Rick Riordan

by Stacy Parish (Children’s Department) and Liz Arrambide (Children’s Department)

“I love Rick Riordan’s (pronounced RYER-den, rhymes with FIREmen, sort of) books! I have read his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, his Heroes of Olympus series, and his Kane Chronicles series. What other juvenile fiction books based on Greek, Roman and/or Norse Mythology are available?”

Well, we are just so very thrilled that you asked! Below is a suggested reading list compiled by the beautiful minds in the Children’s Department of the Main Branch of WCPL. You can also find some great recommendations at Amazon.com, and straight from the (Trojan) horse’s mouth at Rick Riordan’s website and blog at http://www.rickriordan.com.


Underworlds series by Tony Abbott (Greek)

  • J F Abb
  • In the first book in the series, The Battle Begins, Owen is just an average kid with an average life, until his best friend Dana disappears right before his eyes. Owen brings their friends Jon and Sydney into the loop, and they embark upon a mysterious, mythological search-and-rescue mission. AR level 3.6.

Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong (Norse) AR level 4.4.

  • J F ArmLokisWolves

Frostborn series by Lou Anders (Norse)

  • J F And
  • A millennium ago, Arthur Pendragon’s last surviving grandson led the survivors of Britain through a mystical gate to a land of bright magic and dark creatures. Now, a thousand years later, the descendants of those exiles face a threat that could destroy their peaceful, prosperous kingdom. AR 4.9.

The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (Greek)

  • J F Bar   
  • Sixteen-year-old Telemachos has a great life on his island home of Ithaka, which is ruled by his mother Penelopeia while Telemachos’ father Odysseus is away fighting the Trojan War. But Ithaka’s citizens are demanding a new king, and it is up to Telemachos, with only a vague and mysterious prophecy to guide him and his two best friends to accompany him, to find Odysseus and bring him home. AR level 5.5.

Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville (Greek) AR level 5.0.

  • J F Cov      51CN4OwragL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Mythic Misadventures series by Caroline Hennesy (Greek)

  • J F Hen     
  • Pandy, aka Pandora Atheneus Andromaeche Helena, has a fantastic prop for a show-and-tell project at school. She knows the box that Zeus himself gave to her father must never ever be opened, but accidents happen, right? And now it’s up to Pandy to capture all seven evils that escaped from the box, or go down in history as the girl who ruined the world. This fun series begins with Pandora Gets Jealous. AR level 5.5.

The Last Girls of Pompeii by Katheryn Lasky (Rome)

  • J F Las
  • In the summer of AD 79 in the city of Pompeii are two girls named Julia and Sura who lead very different lives. When the girls learn of the plans their parents have for each of them, coupled with the impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius, they are forced to confront the true meaning of freedom. AR level 5.1.

Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub (Greek) AR level 4.5-5.5

  • J F HolGoddess Girls Joan Holub Suzanne Williams Simon & Schuster

The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (Rome)

  • J F Law
  • In the first book of this clever and engaging series, The Thieves of Ostia, amateur detective Flavia Gemina and her friends must solve the mystery of who beheaded the guard dog belonging to her neighbors (who are secretly Christians.) Although some of the descriptions of the violence that occurs may be too graphic for more sensitive readers, this book provides an intriguing glimpse into the customs, attitudes, and culture of the Holy Roman Empire. AR level 5.2.

The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (Greek)

  • J F Tub
  • What if there were 13 zodiac signs instead of 12? And what if you accidentally unlocked the 13th one, Ophiuchus, and that infuriated the other signs? In this fast-paced book, Jalen does exactly that, and along with her best friend and her brother must battle in the streets of New Orleans to get the signs back where they belong. AR level 4.4.

 

Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (Various eras/locations) AR 3.5-4.0.

  • J F Sci

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Down The Rabbit-Hole: Lewis Carroll

lewisBy Stacy Parish, Children’s Library Assistant

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (January 27, 1832-January 14, 1898 — and yes, his birthday is this month) was better known by his nom de plume, Lewis Carroll. Although he is remembered primarily for his literary works, Dodgson was also a mathematician, logician, educator, Anglican deacon, inventor, and photographer.

Dodgson’s most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (1865), its sequel Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871, and which includes the poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter”) and the poem The Hunting of the Snark, all of which are examples of the genre of literary nonsense. Dodgson’s creations were not limited to that genre, however. He also penned several epic poems (Phantasmagoria, also published as Rhyme?And Reason?), poetry collections (Three Sunsets and Other Poems), and numerous writings about mathematics and logic.6639da733b10ce68a756868bdd2d573d

Factual information on Dodgson’s life from 1858-1863 is scarce. His personal diaries from that time are sporadic; large portions of some of the volumes are missing, and some years are completely absent.   Hence, there are quite a few improbable and controversial stories about him that proliferated and became accepted even without any evidence to support them. It has been suggested by some of Dodgson’s biographers that he had an improper interest in young females; however, his personal diaries and letters reflect that he was keenly interested in adult women, and enjoyed numerous relationships with single and married women, some of which were deemed somewhat scandalous by the social dictates of the Victorian era. Dodgson’s nephew and biographer Stuart Dodgson Collingwood wrote that children appealed to Dodgson primarily because he was an educator at heart, and he saw in them the best slate to work upon. Collingwood also says that Dodgson had an uncanny gift for making even the dullest subjects interesting.

aliceDodgson’s life changed drastically in many ways after the overwhelming commercial success of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland as the fame of his pen name “Lewis Carroll” spread rapidly throughout the world. He was bombarded with fan mail and often with unwanted attention. Dodgson also began earning significant sums of money from his writing, yet he remained at Oxford in various capacities until his death. The sequel to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland was published in late 1871 (although the title page of the first edition erroneously lists 1872 as the publication date) and was entitled Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The mood of this book is slightly darker, and perhaps is a reflection of the changes in Dodgson’s life since the publication of the first Alice book.

Whether your taste runs to Alice’s fanciful adventures down the rabbit-hole or through the looking-glass, or to Dodgson’s/Carroll’s beautiful and often biting poetic verse, certainly there are worse ways to spend a winter’s afternoon than curled up with a volume of one of his marvelous creations.

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