Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reading Roundup: 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 107
Early Readers: 13

Library: 115

Writing: Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown (chosen in March)
"As a kid who "didn't match" myself, I really appreciated this story of a little girl nimbly balancing between two cultures."
Illustration: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light (chosen in May)
"The intricacy of the pages (there are so many details to pore over!) are balanced by the simple pen-and-ink style, with one element that pops out in color. A visual treat of New York City, and all the places a dragon can hide therein."
Overall: Gravity by Jason Chin (chosen in October)
"A picture book about one of the forces holding the universe together? Why yes, I've got one right here! In simple, accessible prose suitable for storytime (!), Chin explains gravity, how it works, and how it affects us, with bonus stunning visuals."

My resolution last year was to find more early readers. From 3 up to 13 is definitely more, but I still feel like I'm missing a lot. So that resolution will carry over.

And now my admission. These numbers, much as I love them, are not entirely accurate.

I do an average of two storytimes a week, and my staff puts on two more. We share books with each other on a constant basis, and I'm always grabbing one from the shelf right before the start of storytime "just to see if it will work." Upshot? I read a lot of picture books that I don't record here.

That affects me in more ways than being able to present a total at the end of the year. I use my LibraryThing database to find books to order for storytimes, to do readers' advisory, even just to figure out, "Ooooh, there was that one book, with the mice, and the umbrellas, and ARGH!" Having it as up to date as possible can only help me.
So my other resolution for this year is to actually record everything I read. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading Roundup: December 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 17

Library: all

Writing: Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Seriously, you will regret it. You'll let all those monkeys out . . . and the toucans . . . and the crocodiles. You don't want to see what happens next. (You do? I despair of you.)
Illustration: Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka
From what I heard, Raschka's publisher wanted him to continue Daisy's story. It was a good call. The plot is in the title, but the watercolor-and-gouache illustrations in this wordless book convey all the pathos and empathy that made A Ball for Daisy so special.
Overall: The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
A lonely little boy makes a friend, but he won't be able to keep him. With simple, gentle text and glorious seaside vistas, I kept wanting to re-read this.

Because I Want To Awards
The Minerva Louise Award: Christmas Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
There is immense charm in a book where the reader knows more than the narrator, particularly if you're reading it aloud.
You Guys, There are Teeth in This Book: Cute and Cuter by Michael Townsend
You would think you'd get sugar poisoning from this book. You'd be right, up until the point where Lady Meow-Meow disrupts the happy and adorable home life of Sir Yips-a-Lot by getting all of Janie Jane's attention. Then it's seething resentment and underhanded plotting. Oh boy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: November 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 9
Early Readers: 1

Library: 10

Writing: Little Nelly's Big Book by Pippa Goodhart
Hee! And hee! And hee again! Led astray by an encyclopedia without pictures, an elephant believes that she is a mouse and tries to move into a mousehole. Luckily, she finds sympathetic hosts, but it still makes life difficult.
Illustration: Beautiful Oops! by Barney Salzberg
I noted that I could see this as inspiration for an art program. Salzberg takes common mistakes and catastrophes that plague artists (torn paper, spilled coffee, blotched paint) and turns them into more art. It's very fun trying to guess what he will make of something.
Overall: Hide and Seek by Il Sung Na
A group of animals plays the title game. Who will be the winner? I'm not saying, but here's a hint: the chameleon's on every page, but just try and find him.

Because I Want To Awards
Almost Got Marked the Overall Standout: Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Flora is back, and at play with a penguin! They skate and dance together until penguin gets hungry, and Flora turns up her nose at his fish dinner. Uhoh. Can this friendship be saved? It's simple, spare, and lovely.
Are We There Yet?: A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva
An impatient mouse, a very patient kid, and a trip to Antarctica. Because where else would you take a mouse?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: October 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 11
Early Readers: 2

Library: 12

(Links tomorrow. The WorldCat site seems to be down. Boo.)
Writing: Here Comes Santa Cat! by Deborah Underwood
I'm a fan of books featuring protagonists unsure of their Christmas-morning fate, and desperately trying to tip the scales toward "nice." Blame Calvin and Hobbes. With snappy back-and-forth dialogue between the narrator and the cat (with signs), this one will be fun to read aloud.
Illustration: Up, Tall, and High by Ethan Long
Comparative measurements get the perfect visual treatment with fold-out pages that demonstrate how what's high to one bird might be low to another, and so on.
Overall: Gravity by Jason Chin
A picture book about one of the forces holding the universe together? Why yes, I've got one right here! In simple, accessible prose suitable for storytime (!), Chin explains gravity, how it works, and how it affects us, with bonus stunning visuals.

Because I Want To Awards
Oooo, the Gnashing of Teeth: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and John Klassen
The ending is sort of like a rug pulled out from underfoot, but the more I thought about it, the more it worked for me. Bonus: except a few polysyllabic words, this would work well for early readers.
Far Fetched? As Far as It Gets: Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan
What else can you call a story in which a poorly-mannered preschooler gets randomly invited to dinner with the queen, and subsequently convinces said monarch to eat like . . . well, a preschooler? Oh, I enjoyed this. Can you tell?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: September 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8
Early Readers: 2

Library: 10

Writing: Oliver and his Egg by Paul Schmid
Oliver is back, sans alligator. This time, he finds a stone and imagines a great future if it turns out to be a dinosaur egg. But playing pretend is more fun with friends!
Illustration: Firebird illustrated by Christopher Myers, written by Misty Copeland
Myers' artwork brings out the magic and power of an accomplished ballerina like Copeland, but also the uncertainty of a young girl just starting out in ballet.
Overall: If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead, illustrated
If you want to see a whale, you have to be patient. You can't be distracted by all the other wonders of the natural world that surround you. But they're so wonderful, especially in Stead's delicate woodblock style.

Because I Want To Awards
More than Just Ribbit: Noisy Frog Sing-Along by John Himmelman
I discovered this one when doing a frog storytime. By the end, kids were making all manner of frog noises, from peeps to big booming bullfrog sounds. I can't wait to use it again.
A Sequel Doesn't Mean a Redux: Naughty Kitty! by Adam Stower
I loved last year's Silly Doggy!, in which a small child mistakes a giant bear for a doggy. This time, Lily knows a kitten is a kitten, and the hilarity comes from a tiger wandering around, causing mischief for which the hapless kitten gets blamed

Monday, September 1, 2014


Um. You guys. According to my LibraryThing, I didn't read any picture books or easy readers in August. Or if I did, I didn't record them.

I know. I can't believe it either.

I'll do better next month.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: July 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8

Library: all

Writing: The Roller Coaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman, illustrated by Roger Roth
Most of the books about death that I read focus on the child's grief. This one takes it a step further and weaves in the widowed grandfather's feelings about the loss of his wife. On the long side, so better for older kids, but lovely and sweet.
Illustration: Planet Kindergarten illustrated by Shane Prigmore, written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Prigmore had to walk a fine line here. His kindergarten classroom had to look as if it was populated by aliens and space paraphernalia, while simultaneously being recognizable as kids and classroom stuff. Nicely done.
Overall: If I Had a Raptor by George O'Connor
Bwaha! Vicious carnivorous dinosaur as cat. I seem to be finding a lot of these lately. With sly humor and much use of the raptor's big eyes, I can see myself using this in storytime.

Because I Want To Awards
Community Building FTW: Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry
When a crew is shipwrecked on a giant turtle, it will take everybody's efforts to make themselves a home, even the turtle's. How often do you see that?
Tale as Old as Time: Don't Copy Me! by Jonathan Allen
Anyone who has ever had, or been, an older sibling will  recognize the puffin's plight in this book.