Sunny side up.

Children’s books are often clever and amusing – especially the titles.  Summarizing the plots of published books based only on their titles (and not the actual content) can be a pleasantly entertaining diversion, especially if the eggnog’s been spiked.  😉  

The Sword in the Stove by Frank W. Dormer

Not sure this particular restaurant deserves its 3 Star Michelin rating.  But it may have earned a spot on the TV show “Forged in Fire.”

The Dreadful Fluff by Aaron Blabey

The contents of my dryer’s lint trap aftersomeone who shall remain anonymous forgot to check their pants’ pockets for Kleenex.  Actually, “dreadful” doesn’t sufficiently cover the pleasantries educed by such an incident.

Veggies with Wedgies by Todd H. Doodler

Now, that just sounds super uncomfortable. And, really, is Doodler the author’s real last name? Seems a tad suspicious.

The Funny Bunny Fly by Bethany Straker

Someone is clearly having an identity crisis.

Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renard

An intensive step-by-step guide to dealing with scab. For children.  I mean, the book is for children, the scab is on the potatoes.  I think.

Who Has the Biggest Bottom? by Marijke ten Cate

There are some questions you just don’t ask a lady.

Secrets of the Vegetable Garden by Carron Brown and Giordano Poloni

A revealing, salaciously dirty tell-all: turnips and beans and carrots reveal the skeletons in their closets.

Pants on the Moon by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

My brain automatically drifted to the “other” sort of moon.  And then sort of stayed there.  I need to read this book to be sure I’ve got that all wrong.

Give Please a Chance by Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson

No, really, please do.  Imagine….

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet! by Mercer Mayer

What happened after I fired my professional organizer, and asked Stephen King to hire me a new one….

I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat by Philip Ella Bailey

Princess Ladida Fancydarling sounds about right.

You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk

Not passive-aggressive, much.

Do you have any to add?  Please share! I’ll take eggnog recipes, as well…. 

Fairness for All: Equity.

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One of my most rewarding writing projects this year was the work I did on a children’s nonfiction book for a series called “To Be Canadian,” published by Beech Street Books in September.  My contribution is called Fairness for All: Equity, and I only recently managed to get my hands on a copy, hence the reason I haven’t posted about it until now.  Designated for school-age children in grades 2 to 4, the series covers topics such as freedom, democracy, just society, sustainability, and inclusion.

The research for Fairness for All: Equity was hugely engrossing and fascinating – let’s just say I logged in many, many hours on the Statistics Canada website and I now know significantly more about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Commission than I did before!  And fine-tuning an age-appropriate example to define “equity” versus “equality” was an interesting challenge, to be sure. The book covers a wide range of topics, from gender stereotypes and pay inequity in the workplace, to discrimination based on language, culture, race, or ability – and, of course – includes some suggestions for treating one another fairly and with respect.  I hope Fairness for All: Equity and the other titles in the “To Be Canadian” series will be helpful for children and educators as they explore key concepts such as responsibility, community, and family in the curriculum.

Book review: Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes.

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Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes, illustrated by Jo Robinson (Weaverback Press, 2017)

How do you go about talking to small children about difficult concepts such as bullying, exclusion/inclusion, and diversity?  How do you comfort and instill confidence in a child who has been made to feel different?  How do you encourage bullies to respect others?  How do you help parents and educators give the children in their care the tools they need to celebrate individuality?

With the help of a purple turtle named Myrtle, perhaps! Myrtle may be absolutely adorable (just look at her!), but she’s on a serious mission in Cynthia Reyes’ new children’s book, a smart and sweet story about loving and accepting your special place in the world.  Beautifully and sensitively written, and illustrated by Jo Robinson with the most lush colours imaginable (can you even believe those purples?), Myrtle the Purple Turtle transcends “cute” with an important message, one that will resonate with readers…of all shells.

‘Bye, Book!

One of the sweetest things overheard in the library: children feeding their books into our self check-in machine and calling out a farewell to each one as it is gathered up by the conveyor belts and propelled down the runways into whatever bin it is destined for. Sometimes they specifically name each book: “‘Bye-bye, Pete the Cat!”, but more often, they are all “Book,” the capital letter not merely implied, but reinforced by emphasis.  In the little voices, I can detect notes of wistfulness (that was such a good read!) and excitement (on to the next one!), as well as the usual curiosity and neato! factor that comes with peering through that little gap in the wall and catching our zippy self check-in machine in action. What they can’t see are the huge, knowing smiles on the faces of the team on the other side of the wall, as we wait for the books to drop.

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Have you recently read a book so wonderful that you would wistfully drop it into the book chute and say “goodbye”?  (Or, on the other hand, gleefully say “goodbye” to, because it was so awful?).

Octagons.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall that I work in a library (although, as of very recently, I switched branches in the city, transferring from the one that I worked at for nearly eight years).  I’m not a librarian or a library assistant so front line customer service isn’t part of my duties, but I still get a chance to talk to some of our patrons…and sometimes I just can’t help smiling at what they have to say.  Take this morning, for example:  a young mum asked me for books about shapes for her three-year-old girl.  We browsed the board book spinners and came up with some great titles, including a really sweet one featuring Snoopy (I’m a total softy for Snoopy and naturally assume everyone else is as well).  I thought I had the search wrapped up tidily as the mother flipped quickly through the books, but she turned to me with a sheepish grin on her face.  “These are great,” she said, “but my daughter is really interested in octagons right now.  She just loves octagons.”

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Well, I don’t blame her, really – octagons are very attractive shapes and quite satisfying from a mathematical perspective.  And the word is seriously fun to say aloud.  But I have yet to see a board book featuring octagons.  Actually, if anyone out there is writing board books for a living, please throw some octagons into the next “shape” book you pump out, would you? (I found this rather interesting title at work a few weeks ago, and if it exists, octagons shouldn’t be a complete stretch).  I know a certain three-year-old who would be really impressed….

If you have children, what words or concepts most captivated them when they were toddlers?  Do you remember any ideas you were fixated with as a child?  I can’t recall if I had any obsessions with certain words when I was that age (my Mum might remember!) but I know that even as I got older, I was constantly trying to reinvent the English language – it wasn’t that I mispronounced words (although I occasionally did that, and still do), it was that I was always deliberately making up new words, and renaming things around me.  The various cats we had over the years had so many inventive-yet-utterly-ridiculous monikers, it’s no wonder they never came when they were called.

Oh, wait….   😉

Clipart credit.

Family Literacy Day.

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Today, January 27, is Family Literacy Day here in Canada! Since its designation in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada, Family Literacy Day is an annual celebration of reading and other activities related to literacy.  “Learn at play, every day” is this year’s slogan, reflecting the link between play and reading and the development of children.

At work this week, I found a couple of picture books that were so appealing I just have to share…the first one is Planting the Wild Garden by Kathyrn O. Galbraith (illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin). Although it’s classified as fiction, it approaches non-fiction in its clear explanation of the many ways seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, animals, and people. I love how everything seems to be moving in this book, expressed in action words and noises: the crisp sound of pods snapping, the “per-chik-o-ree” of a goldfinch, the chomping of raccoons on blackberries. Portions of the text are even printed topsy-turvy on the page, reflecting the constant motion of seeds.  So clever!

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(2011, Peachtree Publishers, Georgia)

Well-known children’s book and fantasy author Jane Yolen’s poetry is simple, sweet, and lyrical in Sing A Season Song, and combined with Lisel Jane Ashlock’s spectacular illustrations, this book is positively breathtaking.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids or you’re a long way from being one yourself, it’s worth finding a copy so you can delight in the artistry and beauty.

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(2015, Creative Editions, Minnesota) You can find more examples of Ashlock’s art on her website here. Chances are you may have already read a book she’s illustrated or provided the cover art for.

Spend some time reading to or with a child – not just today and not only if you’re Canadian! Kids + books = something magical and amazing!  Adults + books, too…. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Bananas for books.

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Kids and books can be a hilarious combination.  As most of you know, I work in a library, and one of my favourite things is to see children having fun with reading and enjoying a good story.  Last week, I was tidying up the toys in the play area and I heard a mother reading aloud to her young son, who was about three or four years old.  She was telling a story about farm animals, and she came to a part where she questioned her child, “What animal says ‘moo’ and gives us milk?”

The little one thought about it for a moment (I figure he was pausing for dramatic effect), and then shouted mischievously, “A GORILLA!”

I burst out laughing, and the mother was just in stitches.  You really have to wonder how kids come up with these things!

I think most libraries nowadays have a Reader’s Advisory program, which patrons can use to find new authors, books, and materials they otherwise wouldn’t know about.  They’ll obtain this information by talking to a librarian in their local branch, checking the Hotlist, browsing through display areas, or surfing the home page or blog on the library’s website.  Sometimes I hear patrons soliciting the opinions of other patrons – they’ll see someone with a particular book in hand and simply go up and ask them about it.  Everyone is always happy to offer an opinion on a book.

Case in point:  a couple of weeks ago, I was putting away some board books in the children’s area, when I overheard the greatest book recommendation ever.  One little guy – he couldn’t have been more than six years old – was enthusiastically broadcasting to his younger brother the merits of a certain volume he had picked up.  “You’ll LOVE this book!” he exclaimed.  “It has a booger in it!” *

Children’s book authors, take note – that’s the magic stuff, right there!  Five stars!

*(Subject matter, not actual object. Ewwwww…).

 

How do you get your book recommendations?  Do you check out book reviews on the web, or ask other readers?  Do you pick up books from the displays at your local library?  Are you part of a book club?