Have you seen this book yet?

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

PhotoPlay! Doodle. Design. Draw. by M.J.Bronstein


I received this book in the mail from Chronicle Books the other day and sat down with it to see what it was. It didn’t scream “children’s book” to me but Chronicle publishes such interesting and innovative books that I had to take a look. I was immediately taken with the book. It contains photographs that are captioned in an open-ended way that makes you imagine a story to go with it almost immediately. Think The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and you’ll be on the right track. I thought it was very intriguing so I brought it to class today and shared it with my students. These students are graduating in just a couple of weeks and will officially be teachers. I’m proud of them – they’re going to rock the classroom! They went nuts for this book! I was really tickled they loved it so much. They think like teachers and they thought that a) the photography was awesome, and b) each of them would make fantastic writing prompts for the kids they will soon teach. I think I just sold 24 copies for Chronicle! Take a look at this book if you are looking for ways to get kids writing or if you want to set your own imagination free. It’s a treat. Go to the following URL to see actual downloadable pages from the book:


The BFG Is Coming to the Big Screen


Today in The Guardian there is an article reporting that Steven Spielberg will be directing a film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.The article can be found at:

Dahl’s books have never lost popularity and, at the moment, they are the toast of Broadway and London’s West End. I saw Mathilda in London a couple of years back and even though I am not a big fan of musicals, this one was absolutely wonderful. I can’t help but think that the imaginative sets and the overall adaptation would have satisfied Roald Dahl himself. Last year while in London I was able to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it was fantastic. Again, a musical and again I loved it. I went into it wondering how on earth they were going to stage the play. We’ve seen the story come to life in film (twice) but in film you can show a great glass elevator fairly easily and traverse the whole factory without a problem. How would they do it on the stage? The stage is where we suspend disbelief a bit, I think, so their version of the elevator and the factory itself were suggestive of the ones we know from the book. It really was remarkable. And now The BFG is coming to film and Spielberg is directing. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Event: Panel on Non-Fiction Picture Books at Politics & Prose in D.C.


On Sunday, May 4th, Politics & Prose is hosting a fabulous event called Panel on Picture Books: The Bigger Picture – Non-Fiction in Picture Books at 5:00pm. Information and the address can be found at


This panel will be moderated by Leonard Marcus who has authored numerous books on the history of children’s literature – one more interesting than the next. If anyone can provide the context for this discussion it’s Leonard Marcus. The panel will feature Dick Jackson, Editor, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; author, Jen Bryant; illustrator, R. Gregory Christie; and authors/illustrators, Brian Floca, Susan Roth and Duncan Tonatiuh. This line up is incredible! We’ll have an editor’s perspective and those of the authors and illustrators that create these magnificent works of non-fiction.

Brian Floca just won the Caldecott Medal for Locomotive – a stunning book on the history of locomotives in the US.


Susan Roth won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal for Parrots Over Puerto Rico that tells the story of how the parrots almost disappeared from the island. The artwork is drop dead gorgeous!


I  love Jen Bryant’s work and fell in love with A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin when it came out. It won numerous awards including the Orbis Pictus Award and a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor. I had never heard of Horace Pippin prior to this book (I learn SO much from children’s books) and this beautiful book brought him to life for me. Melissa Sweet (Balloons Over Broadway) illustrated the story beautifully.


If you don’t know R. Gregory Christie’s art you just haven’t been paying attention. He has won the Coretta Scott Honor numerous times. My favorite of his is Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshall written by Vaunda Michaux Nelson. It’s the true story of a US Deputy (think Wyatt Earp) who always got his man. Despite prejudice against black men, Bass Reeves did his job and did it well.


Lastly is Duncan Tonatiuh who is relatively new to me. He won the coveted Pura Belpre Award for both illustrations and text this year for Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: An Immigrant’s Tale. That much needed award celebrates books of the Latino culture. His new book, Separate But Not Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Desegregation is coming in May. It is so amazing – did you know that before Brown vs. the Board of Education the Mendez family fought for their rights so that their children could attend school with white children in Los Angeles? Prior to that, these children went to the Mexican School which was underfunded and forgotten. I had never known about this and am so glad I now know. I will never mention Brown vs. The Board of Education without citing this story as well. And his art! Tonatiuh’s art echoes Mexican folk art – gorgeous. This is a truly remarkable book.9781419710544_p0_v1_s600

If you can make it, this event at Politics & Prose should be amazing. I’ll see you there!

Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens


Capitol Choices is a book evaluation committee that meets once a month in Arlington, Virginia to discuss new books in children’s literature. I joined this group even though I live in Charlottesville because the discussion is so rich that it is worth the 2-1/2 hour drive each way. I am somewhat isolated in Charlottesville in terms of discussion because not everyone has the same access I do to review copies. The likelihood of someone reading what I am reading here in town is fairly low. But at Capitol Choices it is almost certain that I am reading what others are reading.

Capitol Choices grew out of a group that met at the Library of Congress to discuss new children’s books and choose the best for an annual list for anyone interested in books for children. When that group disbanded, many of the members appreciated the discussions so much that they created Capitol Choices. The group is made up of people like myself, Children’s Literature Specialists, along with public librarians, public school librarians, bookstore owners and buyers, representatives from audiobook companies, and many others. If you like children’s books, Capitol Choices is the place for you.

You can find our website at and there you will find so many resources on children’s books that it’s a veritable feast! First of all are the lists. The website has all of our back lists so you can get ideas for child readers gong back some time. They are searchable and incredibly useful. Each list features books in the following five categories: Up to Seven, Seven to Ten, Ten to Fourteen, Fourteen and Up, and Audiobooks. The titles that make the annual list are carefully selected by the whole group and represent the best in children’s publishing.

The lists are wonderful but you can follow along from your own home to see what books we are discussing and the different thoughts our fellow readers have on them. Our meeting notes are posted and you will see that opinions on books can vary widely. You can be a remote member by going to our home page and clicking on “Join Us.” We would love for you to drop by in person or be part of us via the internet.

Our meetings are on Fridays and are generally held at the Arlington Main Library on N. Quincy St. A listing of meetings and times can be found on the “Join Us” page. Even if you never attend a meeting in person, you can still nominate books for consideration if you commit to joining a reading group. The same five categories mentioned above are the five reading groups. Once you sign up for one you can nominate books and vote on the two ballots we have each year. Again, check the “Join Us” page for information on joining.

By the way, many librarians in our group use the Capitol Choices meetings as professional development. I expect school librarians could do the same as well as some teachers. You come away with a good sense of what makes a children’s book strong and your selection skills, whether personal or job-related, become fine tuned.

At the very least, check out the web page and maybe I will see you there sometime. Happy reading!




Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood

Happy Easter everyone! I just have to mention this book from Deborah Underwood , the creator of The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, The Christmas Quiet Book among others, that celebrates Easter. The protagonist here is a cat who is just this side of arrogant who decides he wants to take over the Easter bunny’s duties. The narrator talks to the cat and while the cat doesn’t talk back, he does make facial grimaces and holds up signs – he gets his point across. He’s a lot like Chester the cat from Chester by Melanie Watt – full of himself and funny as hell. He comes up with all the ways he could do the job better than the Easter bunny and his ideas are hilarious. What I particularly like about this book is how the narrator’s questions and replies make up the whole book with the cat only reacting. It’s so effective. Pick it up – your kids will love it. I should also mention that the charming illustrations are by Claudia Rueda. They are both simple and spare – done in ink and colored pencils – yet the cat’s expressions are captured wonderfully on each page.  The illustrations are a perfect match to the story.


Happy 98th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

One of the most influential writers in Children’s literature, Beverly Cleary, celebrated her birthday this week. Cleary was born in McMinnville, Oregon on April 12, 1916 making her 98 years old. Thanks to Ms. Cleary we have all the Ramona Quimby books to read and reread, Henry and Beezus (and let’s not forget Ribsy), Dear Mr. Henshaw, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and so many others.Did you know Cleary did picture books as well? Check her website and you’ll see them there: There is a wonderful video on the site with Ms. Cleary talking about her books. Celebrate by reading one of her books to your children or even for yourself!


The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

The Pigeon is back in a big way! Willems is back in fine form with The Pigeon Needs a Bath! Similar in format to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the pigeon is obviously pretty filthy if you can believe the cover art. Pigeon, cantankerous as ever, denies his disheveled and foul (pun intended) appearance page after page after page. Nothing is ever easy for pigeon, is it? After some major histrionics, pigeon does take a bath and you’ll have to read it to find out what happens. It’s pure pigeon. Willems has another Elephant & Piggie book coming out on June 3rd. My New Friend is So Fun! will be the 21st Elephant & Piggie book in the popular series. Kids absolutely love these books and their esteemed place in the classroom is well-known. Adults love them, too, because the humor is funny to us as well. Beginning readers have never been so much fun. I think the real delight kids find in the books are the characters of Elephant & Piggie. They’re like all of us, aren’t they? Gerald the doubter and worrier and Piggie who is outgoing and adventurous. Either ends of the spectrum to be sure but all of us are somewhere on that continuum. Best of all is the friendship these two opposites enjoy. When a new title comes along, teachers and lovers of children’s books scoop it up and the kids go wild.


Here’s the new E&P. You can preorder on most major book sites.



Mister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich

If you know the Zorro books by Carter Goodrich you know how funny they are and how true to life the dogs are. These two dogs didn’t get off on the right foot but in the end they became the best of friends. I love Goodrich’s illustrations – so perfect for the stories he tells. I happened to be looking at what is coming this season from Simon and Schuster and to my delight found this new book, Mister Bud Wears the Cone. What a fabulous title – so deadpan and funny. It’s like the “curse of the cone.” This should be fantastic and it’s coming in early June. I have always wondered what dogs feel like wearing those silly looking cones. I think I’ll be finding out on June 3rd. 🙂9781442480889_p0_v4_s600

Candace Fleming Wins Children’s Book Guild Non-Fiction Award!

On Saturday, April 5th, Candace Fleming received the coveted Children’s Book Guild Non-Fiction Award in Washington, D.C. This particular prize is awarded for the body of work of a particular non-fiction author.

Candy’s non-fiction is extraordinary and each book reads like a story. In fact, Candy said in her acceptance speech that each of her  non-fiction books contain an arc. I typically associate “arc” with fiction but she is spot on. That’s why her work is so appealing to kids. She said that she tries to find an “equivalent moment” for the reader to buy into the story. In other words, she searches for relevance which we all know is key to getting kids interested in reading.

I think my favorite of her books is Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. We come to this book already knowing so much about Amelia Earhart that this book could have been just a rehash of the many stories we have already heard. Not with Candy Fleming. The structure of the story is so clever – she begins with Earhart’s plane going missing and then toggles back and forth to what led Earhart to that point in her life and the search for the plane. Given our acquaintance with Earhart’s story she wisely gave us the end of the story and went on from there. It works magnificently. If you haven’t read Amelia Earhart, you are in for a rare treat.


Candy spoke a good deal about her new book coming in July called The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia and I can hardly wait to read it. I went to Russia last summer and was so intrigued by the story of the Romanovs that I promised myself I would delve into that history at the first opportunity. Well, Candy’s book will be that chance for me. The story is inherently mysterious and their disappearance remains fascinating as a story and as a time in history. Pre-order this one right now.


Congratulations to Candy Fleming for winning the award and a huge thank you to her for all the excellent non-fiction she provides for children that help them see the world in different ways. There is no time to  go into it now but Candy is also an amazing writer of fiction. To talk about ALL of them would have me up all night! Both novels and picture books, her work is as diverse as it is good. Check out her website to see for yourself and enjoy!

Duck and Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills

This book will be coming out on Tuesday, April 8th and you are going to want it big time! I have loved Duck and Goose from the very first one in this wonderful series. I saw a preview of upcoming books at an ALA Midwinter and up popped the cover of the first D&G. I was impressed by how vivid and fun the art was and that I could see it from way in the back. Schwartz and Wade shared it with us and I fell in love with these two friends. Now D&G are going to the beach. At first,, Goose is not sure about the idea of a trip but Duck’s enthusiasm pulls him along. When they get to the beach Goose LOVES it….and now Duck isn’t so sure. It’s funny and clever and the illustrations are perfect. It’s a must have for your classrooms and for any little ones who have a longstanding relationship with D&G. 🙂 My granddaughter (22 months) loves D&G and I have read the pumpkin title a gazillion times. I haven’t minded once.


Irresistable, right?

Post Navigation