Thursday, April 30, 2009

Michael Rosen is on a Bear Hunt

Via Fuse #8, another delightful video. This time, Michael Rosen performs "We're Going on a Bear Hunt." I settle down to take notes.

Honestly, they should show this in library school classes. Marvelous.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A New Blog on the Horizon

. . . not that far off, in fact.

PBS has started up their very own kidlit blog, named Booklights, with the tagline, "Inspire a love of reading in your child with help from these children's book experts."

And just who are those experts? If they seem familiar, that's because they are. Pam from MotherReader, Jen from Jen Robinson's Blog, and Susan from Wizards Wireless are teaming up to write this new blog, along with Gina from PBS and various guest bloggers.

Congrats to Jen, Pam, and Susan, who kick things off with their personal Top 10 lists of favorite picture books. Check it out and pass it on!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bill Martin Sings!

Fuse #8 is getting into the "Top" portion of her her Top 100 Picture Books, and along with the witty reviews, she's digging up some mighty treats for us. This one was in the 30-26 post, specifically in the Brown Bear, Brown Bear section (number 30, in case you're counting).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jane Yolen on Picture Books and Writing

Jane Yolen recently visited a children's lit class at Mount Holyoke College to talk about picture-book writing. My personal favorite:
"if [picture books] can't be read aloud, if the writing is clunky, to me, that's not a good picture book."
She also skewered some of the class's sentimental favorites in her typical forthright fashion. On Love You Forever:
"I think she drugs his cocoa." That's an interesting take. She meant that through the years, the mother expresses her love for her child only while he sleeps, while he is quiet, while he behaves.
While this title is one that many in the children's lit field love to hate, Yolen isn't just bashing for the fun of it. Her statement is an examination of the text and what it says to children. Click through for her opinions on The Giving Tree and Rainbow Fish.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From Bomb Shelters to Butterflies

Newsweek ran an article about Eric Carle the other day with the rather sensational title of "The Surprising Dark Side of the Very Hungry Caterpillar." Turns out it's not that dark, but like fellow picture-book guru Maurice Sendak, Carle spent a fair portion of his childhood in fear. In this case, it was the fear of a child living in WWII Germany, complete with food shortages, bomb scares, and a father locked away in a Russian prison camp. From the article:
There's even something about the way he describes the caterpillar's diet ("On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese … ") that evokes the way he describes what he ate after the war when he went to work for the Americans.
Why are we always so surprised to learn about things like this? Is it because we associate childhood with safety and optimism?

But to a child, even one in the most secure and happy home, the world is a large, mystifying, and often scary place. Maybe it's the authors that still understand this basic truth that speak to children most clearly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book Review: The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

Book: The Doghouse
Author: Jan Thomas
Illustrator: Jan Thomas
Published: 2008

As Mouse, Pig, Duck, and Cow are playing ball, their ball bounces into the doghouse. The big doghouse. The dark doghouse. The doghouse surrounded by scary trees and a general aura of danger. Now the question is . . . who will retrieve it?

I've been meaning to review one of Jan Thomas' books for awhile now. She seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. Her books are snappily written, hilarious, easily readable even for beginners, and feature bright, expressive, simple illustrations that catch kids' eyes. It's the kind of writing and art that make people go, "Gosh, I could do that!" Silly people. Silly, silly people. It's easy to do; it's hard to do well.

The thing I loved best about The Doghouse is the unabashed self-preservation of Mouse. Let somebody go in that big, dark, scary doghouse, not him. And of course, the ending shows that our fears are never as huge as they seem.

Friday, April 24, 2009

They're Penguins, Get Over It

So the ALA put out their list of most frequently challenged books of 2008, and for the third year in a row, the adorable And Tango Makes Three took the number one spot.

Um, yay?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Teaser

So it's apparently Video Week here on Kid Tested, Librarian Approved. This one's a teaser trailer for Grace Lin's newest picture book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Okay, fine, it's short. But gorgeous! I love Lin's style, a mix of Asian influence and sweet kid-friendliness. Obtained from Lin's own blog, Gracenotes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tina Fey on Sesame Street!

This has something to do with kidlit, I swear. She's a book-aneer.

See? Totally related. It was a couple of years back, but I just discovered it a few days ago.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mark Teague Video

Found this one at Fuse #8--a video interview with Mark Teague, best known as the illustrator of the How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen. Not to mention (for the giant geeks out there) the man who lent his pencil to the Consolidated Summer Reading Program a few years back for the mystery theme. *cough* Really giant geeks.

Anyway, in this video, he talks a little bit about his work and how he got started. First on the list of credits? The public library, a biweekly destination for his family when he was a kid. Awwww yeah.

By the way, I covet that lamp.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Picking Books for Your Babies

One of the newest inhabitants of my Google Reader is Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile, written by the mother of a sixteen-month-old book lover. She relates the books she reads to her little one, and his reactions. It's the parent perspective that, as a librarian, I'm always looking for.

Anyway, in this post, she assembles some good suggestions for other parents trying to pick books for their munchkins. I wanted to pick my favorite to sample here, but they're all so good that I'll just send you straight on over.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The President Makes a Great Wild Thing

Only a week late, I finally found the actual video of this. The article I had marked in my Google Reader took it down by the time I went to post it. But as always, Fuse #8's Video Sunday came to the rescue.

Not everybody is a good read-alouder, even those who are good at public speaking, but I wouldn't kick the Chief out of storytime, I'll tell you that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cinderella by Lynn Roberts

Book: Cinderella: An Art Deco Love Story
Author: Lynn Roberts
Illustrator: David Roberts
Published: 2003

Once upon a time (the 20s), there was a girl named Cinderella. She . . . well, you know the story.

Cinderella is as she always is, sweet, mild, long-suffering and boring. She puts up with her stepfamily, she meets her fairy godmother, she goes to the ball, yadda yadda yadda. The real joy of this book is in the storytelling and the art.

With phrases like this one, describing the stepsisters, "Elvira was as wicked as Ermintrude was dim, and Ermintrude was very, very dim," Lynn Roberts brings a lot of giggles to this classic story. Interestingly, she also doesn't kill off the father--he wanders around in a daze, apparently unaware that his daughter is being treated like an unpaid drudge. Pops better watch his back when they hear about this one at the palace.

David Roberts draws with sharp points, long, curving lines, and exaggerated details (in one picture, the stepmother is wearing a feather that sticks straight up from her head and is at least as tall as she is) that just seem to fit the Art Deco style perfectly. He also adds Art Deco artifacts, such as the Bakelite jewelry box on one page or the funky teapot on another, and Deco-ish elements even pervade the natural landscape.

In general, one Cinderella story tends to be pretty much like another, but this one stands out for the sly wit and the beautiful art.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Want To Tattoo This Somewhere on My Body

Failing that, I'd like to hand it out to every new parent I see.

Much-beloved and very familiar, but always worth reading again, here they are: 13 Ways to Raise a Non-Reader. Recently, the authors also wrote (for teachers) "How to Raise Non-Writers and Non-Artists."

Thanks to Jen Robinson for reminding me of this old favorite.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can I Get a Huzzah?

Awhile back, Wizard's Wireless lamented that Blueberries for Sal didn't seem to be in print any longer. That made me sad, too. That's one of those books we read over and over in my childhood, and I always wanted to pick berries so I could meet a bear. (The thought that berries might not equal meeting a bear never crossed my teeny-tiny little mind. Also never to cross my mind? The thought that meeting a bear might not be all that fun.)

So I was happy to see this Publisher's Weekly article on the reprinting of Blueberries for Sal. Apparently, there was an estate-related kerfuffle and Viking's been working feverishly to retain the rights. There was a gap of time where they couldn't legally sell it (sigh), but now it's back, as well as a number of other McCloskey classics. Woohoo!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In the Illustrator's Mind

The book blog Bookie Woogie is one of my favorites for its unique format. Instead of one person blathering on about why they liked or didn't like the book, the reviews are a faithful transcript of a conversation between a father and his kids about the story and illustrations.

And I mean faithful. Anybody who's ever run a storytime will laugh and nod when one (or all) of the kids start to get really silly or enthusiastic over the book of the week.

This week was an extra-special treat, as the book they reviewed was illustrated by none other than Daddy. They also ask him questions about the illustration process, and given that the book is one of those interactable ones, there were some interesting considerations that went into that process.

They're giving away copies of the book (which looks extremely cute) to random commenters, so drop on by and leave a line!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Okay, so that's twice in recent weeks that I've seen an iPhone app that involves kidlit. Here's the first, a 9.99 dictionary for the kiddies featuring Curious George, put out by Houghton. This is all according to the Publisher's Weekly story, which seems to indicate that this is just the first of many.

Then I stumbled upon another, ReaderGenie. This one seems more truly useful to teachers or parents of young children. It works with the website of the same name to find books based on such diverse criteria as ages and grades, emotions, and even whether it has an animal character. Plus, this one's free.

What do you think? Would you add these apps to your iPhone?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ashley Bryan

I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I first heard of Ashley Bryan just a few years ago, when I read his glorious Let It Shine. Even then, I didn't realize what an important figure he was in children's illustration. This profile of Bryan in Atlanta's Epoch-Times (which I suspect is only the tip of the iceberg) opened my eyes.
Though he was talented and passionately committed to becoming an illustrator, he was not published until he was in his forties. He was the first African American children’s book author and illustrator to be published, in 1962. . . . Now in his nineties, he just won a Laura Ingalls Wilder Lifetime Achievement Award. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award for children’s books three times. He is almost as famous for mentoring others as he is for his own work.
Wowie zowie.

His autobiography, Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song, was recently published by Athaneum, in picture-book form.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Read Together 2009

Here's one for all you parents out there.

Jennifer over at the Snapshot blog challenges us to Read Together. Set yourself a goal for reading with your kids in the month of April and try to meet it throughout the month. She suggests expanding your reading time, trying new genres, or making an effort to read with older kids.

By the way, I'm posting this on my picture book/early literacy blog, but she also would like to see parents reading to their middle graders and even teenagers. I think many parents think these ages can read for themselves, so they wouldn't be willing to listen to Mom and Dad's voice. But just because they're older doesn't mean reading together isn't still a good time. You might have to talk them into it.

Credit for the find goes to Jen Robinson, of course.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Forget the Jellybeans

In addition to being Easter, tomorrow is Drop Everything and Read Day. How about tucking a book into your child's Easter basket? Or hiding a coupon good for one super-special-just-you-and-Mom/Dad trip to your child's favorite bookstore in one of those plastic eggs?

Just something to think about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a chocolate rabbit to devour.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Read Indeed

My Google Reader unearthed this.

Nine-year-old Maria Keller started Read Indeed in 2007, hoping to get one million books into the hands of children by her eighteenth birthday (2018, in case you're counting). So far she's got just over ten thousand, passing them on to various charitable organizations. You can donate or suggest an organization by emailing her at

In fact, this sounds like something for the Kidlitosphere--perhaps as part of the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference? Cogitate!

I love this idea, and while it undoubtedly gets cuteness/human interest points for being the idea of a nine-year-old, it also sends out the message that kids care as much about literacy as grown-ups do. Fabuloso.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Animated Green Eggs and Ham

Have some, you know you want to.

Some of the musical interludes seem pretty superfluous, but I definitely giggled at the running joke with the fox.

Thanks to readertotz for the link.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So What Are You Doing in October?

It's never too early to plan your Halloween costume.

Also, the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, organized by MotherReader (of MotherReader fame), takes place on the 17th in Washington, DC. It is the most fun I've ever had in a large room with a bunch of kidlit-lovin' geeks who use the Internet to tell everyone about their favorite books. Reserve your plane ticket now!

I currently don't know if I'm going to make it, but I hope so!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So This is What a Picture Book Author Looks Like

Congrats to Fuse #8, who recently had two picture-book manuscripts bought by Greenwillow. Below, her reaction.

As you can see, she's a restrained soul.

Gigantic congrats, Betsy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dinotrux Movie Already?!

According to Cheryl Rainfield and ScreenRant, Chris Gall's swiftly-upcoming picture book Dinotrux has already been optioned by DreamWorks for one of their CGI movies.

Now, options don't mean nothin' but that a studio has, y'know, the option to make the movie. We may never see this hit the screen.

On the other hand . . . dinosaurs! Trucks! Dinosaurs that become trucks! Just thinking of the toy rights probably makes DreamWorks accountants rub their hands in fiendish glee.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Because a Book is the Best Thing You Can Have on a Plane

Oh, now this I loooooooooooove.

Reading is Fundamental has paired up with US Airways for the Read With Kids Challenge. If you log your time spent reading with the little ones, you can Win Stuff. Disneyworld (among others) was mentioned. How cool!

It just started on the 1st and goes through June 30th. This almost makes me consider forgiving US Airways for that one time they lost my baggage somewhere on the East Coast.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Top 100 Picture Books

I am deeply ashamed to admit this, but I feel you'll forgive me. I never sent in my top ten picture books to Fuse #8 for her Top 100 Picture Books of All Time list.

I know. I'm a horrible excuse for a blogger.

In case you want to see what more on-the-ball people picked, Fuse #8's got 'em at her blog, counting down ten at a time. Go see! Gnash your teeth and tear your hair, or jump up and down that yours made it.

Now where did I put my Blue Journal of Stuff I Gotta Read Before I Die?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Multiple Wild Things

A couple of Where the Wild Things snippets tonight. First, check out this article from USA Today on the creation of the upcoming movie. The bit that makes me happiest? When Spike Jonze says:
"My intention was to be true to how it felt to be 9 years old. Maurice's whole thing is to be honest. You can say anything to kids as long as you are respectful and not pandering."
Perfect. And definitely don't miss the photos.

The second bit of news is cake-related. I'm a fan of a blog called Cake Wrecks, and a few weeks back, she featured a Where the Wild Things Are cake in her regular Sunday Sweets post. There was some discussion of how the baker did it, but however it was accomplished, it looks a-maz-ing.

And yummy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood for Engineers

Just for you, one of the most . . . interesting retellings of Little Red Riding Hood I've ever seen.

SlagsmÄlsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

My favorite off-kilter moment in a decidedly off-kilter video? Grandma's nutrition facts. Twisted.

Thanks to Fuse #8's Video Sunday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reading Roundup March 2009

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 23
Early Readers: 1

Writing: Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood by Timothy Knapman
Illustration: Agate: What Good Is a Moose? illustrated by Nikki Johnson
Overall: All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant

Because I Want To Awards
Go On, Spend Two or Three Hours Looking At This One: A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson
Most Satisfying: Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug! by Ed Emberley
So Want to Try This in Storytime: Apples and Oranges: Going Bananas with Pairs by Sara Pinto
Did the Happy Dance When I Came Upon It Unexpectedly: TIE Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and Are You Ready to Play Outside? both by Mo Willems