Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's in it for Mom and Dad?

In literacy circles, we talk a lot about the benefits of reading aloud for kids (which, make no mistake, are legion). But recently, Andrea Ross of the kidlit podcast Just One More Book!! wrote a piece at the Children's Book Review about what she gets from reading to her small ones. Here's a sample:
Read-aloud time is a time to connect. I can’t cook, gab or plan while I’m reading and any of my own grumblings, nagging or less than stellar moods are put aside. What I’m reading, in these cases, barely matters. They want to know that I’m there for them and reading aloud lets me show them I am.
All together now: awwwww. Click the link for more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cybils Ahoy!

The noms don't start for the Cybils until October 1, but you can put in your name to be a judge right now. From the Cybils blog, the requirements:
  • blog about some aspect of children's or teen books on at least a somewhat consistent basis;
  • or contribute regularly to a group blog about same;
  • know a thing or two about what kids/teens are reading these days;
  • are planning to be reading obsessively over the next few months anyway
Sound like you? Check the rest of the post for more info. Make sure you know what you're getting into! I've done this for the past two years. It is great fun, but also a lot of work. But if you're up to it, let the organizers know!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Are You Signed Up for KidlitCon 09?

Admit it, you were just thinking, "Gosh, I'm not doing anything on Saturday, October 17. Whatever can I find to fill up the time?" I know. It's spooky how I read minds like that.

Well, wonder no more! Head on over to Kidlitosphere Central and sign yourself up for the Third Annual (Third! Annual! I know!!) Kidlitosphere Conference, taking place this year in Washington, D.C. We're having sessions on reviewing, the publishing biz, giving back, plus a meet-the-authors session. And that's not all--there'll be social-type fun on Friday and Sunday both.

Seriously, I've been to the last two and I loved them. It's so much fun to meet the people you've been reading, to jabber about kids books and blogging and all sorts of other topics. Both years, it refreshed and energized and empassionated (it's a word, because I said so) me to get back to my blog. In fact, I started Kid Tested, Librarian Approved in the airport on the way back from last year's conference.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review: Friday My Radio Flyer Flew by Zachary Pullen

Book: Friday My Radio Flyer Flew
Author: Zachary Pullen
Illustrator: Zachary Pullen
Published: 2008

When his dad finds an old red wagon in the attic, a little boy takes the opportunity to fix it up. He knows it can not only roll, it can fly. But days of work, false starts, and tumbles later, he's starting to have his doubts. Then his dream comes true, in a most unexpected way.

One of the first things I noticed is that this book is an illustration of shared father-son moments. Picture books tend more toward Dad-as-Hero, but instead Pullen chooses to show wordless moments of togetherness in everyday life. Not only the climax, which made me smile and smile, but throughout the book, the father watches or works alongside his son.

Pullen's oil-paint-on-board illustrations have a fifties feel about them, from the dad's hat to the son's sneakers and hairstyle. Big, beautiful two-page spread immerse you in the story. This simple, sweet story celebrates the power of joined imaginations.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Proud Reader

One of my favorite non-library, non-book blogs is Dooce. She posted a video recently of her five-year-old daughter reading The Cat in the Hat aloud for the camera. (Sorry, folks--I can't embed.)

The kid's a good reader, but what got me was the expression of pride on her face right around 0:45. Check me out, y'all. I'm reading the crap out of this book.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book Review: In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck and Tricia Tusa

Book: In a Blue Room
Author: Jim Averbeck
Illustrator: Tricia Tusa
Published: 2008

It's bedtime, but Alice can't sleep, not until her room is blue all over. Mama brings flowers, tea, a blanket, and bells to soothe her daughter to sleep. Though none of them are blue, they all contribute to Alice's growing drowsiness. And she finally gets her blue room from an unexpected source.

I love books that utilize all five senses without being overbearing about it, and Averbeck builds the book around a gentle sensation in each one. While the text isn't written in the rhyming-couplet format that you so often see in picture books, there's a poetic flow about the words that rocks listeners off to sleep, like this:
In a blue room
yellow bells on black strings
chime softly in the window breeze.
Alice yawns,
almost gone.
Tricia Tusa uses ink, watercolor, and gouache for the illustrations, which use a warm color palette (at least in the first three-quarters of the book) and soft, flexible lines to create a cozy atmosphere. And I have to say, when I turned the page and found the blue room, my jaw dropped. Wowee.

A perfect book for bedtime. I'm feeling a little sleepy myself.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wild Things Trailer Joy and Happiness

The new Where the Wild Things Are trailer came out last week, but I didn't get the chance to watch it until now.

Ooooo. Love. I'm still trying to get a feel for what the framing story's supposed to be, but I love the Wild Things and Max's delivery of the wild rumpus line is awesome.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Review: Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman

Book: Museum Trip
Illustrator: Barbara Lehman
Published: 2006

On a class trip to the art museum, one boy gets separated from the group (there's always one). He wanders around until he finds a display of ancient mazes--and then into the mazes, to discover their mysteries for himself.

Wordless picture books are always a little tough for me. Maybe I depend too much on words to tell me what's going on. But reading Museum Trip, I got the same feeling of fuzzy boundaries and space for imagination that I got from David Wiesner's Flotsam. Maybe that's the real joy of wordless books. Just as in comic books and graphic novels, you have to surmise the story through the pictures, and just possibly the story you construct is not the same one that everyone else does.

There's something in this book to captivate art lovers, puzzle aficionados, and adventurous kids. Who doesn't adore the idea of shrinking down small enough to race around a paper maze--and the possibility that you're not the only one who's ever done it?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reading Roundup July 2009

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 30
Early Readers: 0 (ooops)

Writing: The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka
Illustration: Sleeping Bunny, illustrated by Pamela Silin-Palmer
Overall: In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Because I Want To Awards
You Could Spend Hours With This Book: All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer
Most Hilarious Interplay Between Text and Illustrations: Just Another Ordinary Day by Rod Clement