Spring 2001 Shoppe Talk San Marino Toy&Book Shoppe

We welcome 200l with a fresh batch of new titles as well as some favorites from the season past. Some of the books are just right for sharing in the early springtime celebrations and holidays. We are also happy to tell you about this year’s winners of the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King awards selected by members of the American Library Association. New books are arriving daily, perfect for reading aloud, reading together, or reading alone. We look forward to your visits so we can share our own personal choices with you.

And the Winners Are …

The task of deciding the best children’s fiction published in 2000 must have been formidable for the Newbery committee. There was such a rich field of novels from which to pick. The librarians finally selected the sequel to a previous year’s Newbery Honor title.

The Newbery Medal

In A YEAR DOWN YONDER, Richard Peck continues the story of an invincible grandmother who was first introduced in A Long Way From Chicago. The year is 1937 and with Dad out of work and Joey working out west in the Civilian Conservation Corps, teenaged Mary Alice is sent by herself to live with Grandma Dowdel in rural Illinois. Grandma can out prank and out bully any kid in town and can even turn the tables on pretension and snobbery. The book’s a hoot, and a great read-aloud for a family or classroom. Winning the Newbery Medal means that for generations to come, kids will continue to enjoy the antics of a terrific grandmother. (Ages 10+++, $16.99)

  The Newbery Honors - The librarians also settled Newbery Honors upon four other outstanding titles.
Jack Gantos’s sympathetic and realistic portrait of a youngster struggling with attention deficit disorder, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, was published to much acclaim in 1998. This year the librarians recognized its worthy sequel, JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL which continues the story. It’s summer and Joey gets to visit his father, Carter who also suffers from ADD. Dad enlists Joey to pitch for a baseball team he’s coaching which is fine for Joey, but he also encourages him to stop taking his medication which turns out to be not so fine. Gantos manages to infuse his stories with humor without downplaying the seriousness of the problems Joey has to manage. His graphic descriptions, both fascinating and entertaining, have added to our understanding of the difficulties of living with ADD. (Ages 9-13, $16.00)

Sharon Creech’s THE WANDERER, reminds us of Chasing Redbird and her Newbery Medal-winning Walk Two Moons. In each the protagonist is searching for some understanding of a family event that has occurred when they were too young to fully comprehend it, and are now ready to take in the information. THE WANDERER’s setting offers lively action as thirteen-year-old Sophie and her cousins and uncles sail across the Atlantic to England on a forty-five foot sailboat. The adventure is told through the journals of Sophie and her cousin, Cody as they chronicle all the challenges the sea can bring. The voyage gives Sophie the opportunity to begin uncovering long buried and painful secrets of her early childhood. Creech has developed a well-deserved following among upper elementary and middle school aged readers which may be even more critical than the librarians.  (Ages 10+, $15.95)

Author, Kate DiCamillo’s BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE charmed the librarians as much as it delighted us. Her gentle story of a motherless child named India Opal Buloni and a mangy stray dog captured our hearts. India tells us about the fortuitous day that she discovers him smack dab in the midst of the produce section of the local grocery store. Naming the creature the first thing that comes to her mind, he is dubbed Winn-Dixie in honor of the store where she has found him. Getting the dog is the easy part, convincing her father to let her keep it is another matter altogether. But Winn-Dixie wins him over with his appealing personality. This remarkable dog becomes India’s inseparable companion and entrée into the life of the little Florida town where her father is the new preacher. DiCamillo has created memorable characters in this “must read” book.  (Ages 8++, $15.99)

Joan Bauer writes successfully for that highly critical middle school crowd. Her snappy dialogue is spoken by wholesome and very likeable characters who are bright, earnest and capable. Her plots, like her characters, are original. Jenna Boller, for example, in Rules of the Road, is a teenaged, crackerjack shoe salesperson who gets to drive the shoe company’s aging president from Chicago to Dallas (sort of a “Driving Miss Daisy” for teenagers). Squashed has a bit more romance in its story but its setting in suburban Iowa centers around growing a giant pumpkin as sixteen-year-old Ellie Morgan is determined to win the blue ribbon for the largest pumpkin in the annual Weigh-In. A pool hall is the even more unlikely setting for Bauer’s 1996 novel, Sticks, about ten-year old Mickey Vernon who wants to win the Pool Hall Youth Championship. Now enter this year’s fourth Newbery Honor, HOPE WAS HERE. For any youngster who even remotely thinks about working in a restaurant, this is the novel to read. Hope and her aunt Addie, a fabulous and creative diner cook, have moved to rural Wisconsin to run a small locally owned restaurant for its owner, J.T. Stoop. J.T. has taken on two life battles. One is leukemia and other is the corrupt mayor. Hope is quickly enlisted to waitress at the diner and to help get J.T. elected as mayor. Bauer has some powerful messages in her books about teenagers who take pride in doing their best, who get involved in important issues, and who have great senses of humor.  (Ages 10+. $16.99)

  The Caldecott Medal
The Caldecott committee awarded illustrator David Small its highest accolades by awarding him the Caldecott Medal for his enormous contribution to Judith St. George’s SO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT? It helps us to read once again her reminder to young readers that every president’s “first priority has always been the people and the country they served.” With David Small’s expressive paintings to match the text, this is a lively and thoughtful commentary on one of the most important jobs in the world. Perhaps in reading it and studying Small’s inviting and accessible artwork, children will be inspired to consider making a run for the presidency someday. We never know the thing that sets a great life in motion. Why not this year’s Caldecott Medalist? 
(Ages 7-11, $17.99)

  The Caldecott Honors
OLIVIA got a perfect 10 from us for “utterly adorable” last fall. And the librarians were hooked as well. This irresistible little piglet would be a perfect buddy for our friend Eloise. Whether singing (from a collection of 40 Very Loud Songs) or building a sandcastle (hers is a skyscraper) she tackles life with gusto. She wears out her mother who really is mostly unflappable, except when OLIVIA decides to outdo Jackson Pollack’s art (after a museum visit) on her own walls. Ian Falconer earns his first Caldecott Honor and high marks from us too for taking time away from set and costume design and other painting pursuits to create a book for kids (and grownups!). (Ages 3-7+, $16.00)

One of the hits of last fall was a funny tale called CLICK CLACK MOO: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin with droll paintings by Betsy Lewin. The cows have gotten hold of a typewriter and are using it to protest their living conditions to Farmer Brown. In fact the barnyard and the farmer will never be the same after the animals have learned to communicate with the written word. The librarians awarded Lewin a Caldecott Honor for the extra humor she brought to the amusing text. The format allows the book to be shared with a group or one happy child sitting on your lap. (Ages 3-8, $15.00)

CASEY AT THE BAT; A Ballad Sung In the Year 1888 by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, has been illustrated a number of times over the years. A sure winnner for the baseball fan and history buff alike, this imaginative edition by Christopher Bing, illustrated on scratch board, has the feel of the times in which the poem was written and evokes the magic of that mighty day Casey struck out. Each two page spread is packed with baseball memorabilia like a vintage scrapbook. The endpapers and text cleverly allude to the history and resources that Bing has used, as well as a nod of appreciation to the artist’s family, friends and respected colleagues. Give one to the kids but get another one for Grandpa for his birthday or Father’s Day or opening day of the new season. We’re glad the librarians shined an extra spotlight on this delightful book by giving it a Caldecott Honor(Ages 5+++, $17.95)

  Coretta Scott King Awards
These awards honor African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.

Into the lives of three brothers comes personal calamity. Everything is terribly wrong. Their parents have died, and the eldest, Ty’ree, must now give up his dream of college to support them all. Charlie returns from a correctional facility as a hostile stranger with a new name and new friends, leaving the youngest, Lafayette, frightened and full of questions asking “Why?” Can they stay together, or will sadness, fear and anger tear them apart? In her book, MIRACLE’S BOYS, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson writes with intense clarity about very difficult issues and feelings. Her dialogue is honest, never losing the “voice” of three young men as they struggle together to make their way back to normal life. (Ages 9-12, $15.99)

The Coretta Scott King award for illustration was presented to Bryan Collier for his picture book UPTOWN, a view of Harlem’s people and neighborhoods through the eyes of a young boy. We see the “chocolate” brownstones and trains like caterpillars. Harlem and jazz go together “like chicken and waffles” (his favorite). Collier’s clever collages combine photography and paint to show us the people and sights of a vibrant and proud neighborhood which honors its heritage and embraces a hopeful future. (Ages 4-8, $15.95)

Picture Books
Author/illustrator Anthony Browne, like Willy the chimp (his main character), knows that every picture tells a story. Browne dedicates WILLY’S PICTURES “to all the great artists who have inspired me to paint”. What follows is a series of pictures torn from Willy’s sketchpad based on such masterpieces as “Mona Lisa” and “American Gothic”. All featuring chimps, of course. What a fun and unique way to introduce children to some of the world’s most famous works of art. A foldout page in the back shows the original painting, gives the date it was done, and includes a comment on that piece. Sharing a book like this encourages a visit to an art gallery and a gift of painting supplies. Who knows where it could lead!
(Ages 6-9, $16.99)

Heave Ho, all you pirate fans and make way for LITTLE BADGER, TERROR OF THE SEVEN SEAS. Little Badger, wobbling and waddling along the forest path, (all the better to keep his balance on the heaving deck of his pirate ship) encounters a series of friends who deny his claim to piracy. He doesn’t wear a striped jersey and cocked hat, or an eye patch. He has no green parrot on his shoulder. But, Little Badger knows something they don’t know. Old Badger assured him he could be anything he wanted to be “as long as he used his imagination and was home in time for supper”. This funny story written by Eve Bunting is charmingly illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Come aboard, and join the fun.
(Ages 3-7, $15.00)

When Giant Baby Bear finds THE VERY SMALL creature in the woods, they realize he is lost. Giant Baby Bear takes him to his home, makes him a creative playground, and shares some dinner. After a warm bath, they settle down to sleep. Giant Baby Bear’s sneeze blows Very Small back to the woods where his own parents are waiting for him. He is soon safe in his own bed with his own little teddy, who now seems very small. Joyce Dunbar uses a minimum of words to tell the tale. The vivid watercolor illustrations by Debi Gliori capture the warmth of their friendship. She uses perspective well to show how someone larger can be gentle with someone smaller. (Ages 3-7, $16.00)

Louis loves his Gran who assures him, “You’re my favorite youngest grandchild”. He especially loves THE HICKORY CHAIR Gramps had carved for her. The way she describes it makes Louis feel he can see it, although he was born blind. When Gran dies, the family gathers to hear her will. She has left each of them a note hidden in one of her favorite things. Everyone finds a note except Louis. Surely, Gran would not have forgotten him. Lisa Fowler Fraustino weaves a wonderful tale about that special relationship between generations. The illustrations by Benny Andrews are done in oils and fabric collage.
(Ages 6-9, $15.95)

Amaroq loves hearing wolf stories from his older sister, Julie. A wolf pack once saved her life. Amaroq is named after the leader of that pack. When Julie brings two wolf pups back to their Eskimo village, Amaroq cares for and comes to love NUTIK, THE WOLF PUP. But Julie has promised to return the sickly pups to the wolves when they are well. Amaroq and Nutik fall asleep to the sounds of the snow geese and wake with the snowy owlets, they are never apart. In the blue grayness of the winter night the wolves return for Nutik. Will he answer their call? Can Amaroq be strong enough to let his friend go? Author Jean Craighead George won the Newbery Medal in 1973 for her novel Julie of the Wolves. Illustrator Ted Rand traveled to the Arctic tundra to capture the wonderful colors used for this moving story about a special friendship. (Ages 4-8, $15.95)

That irrepressible penguin returns in TACKY AND THE EMPEROR. Helen Lester has written another funny encounter for our hero, this time with royalty. Adults will get the joke that the emperor really is an Emperor penguin. The other penguins look quite elegant but Tacky, as usual, dresses his own way. A laugh-out-loud story with lively illustrations by Lynn Munsinger. Don’t miss the picture on the back of the book!
(Ages 4-8, $15.00)

In EVERYWHERE BABIES Susan Meyers follows babies and the things they do from birth to their first birthday. Talented illustrator Marla Frazee draws lots of babies playing, sleeping, crawling, and being kissed. Babies are dressed, fed, and carried everywhere. There is a great picture showing how much noise they make as they cry, giggle, coo, bang and splash. What a joyous extravaganza, perfect for a shower gift.
(Ages 2-5, $16.00)

A hilarious chain of misadventures begins when THE BEAR CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE. He came to see what he could see (me), get what he could get (wet), and think what he could think (I stink). The bear and his friendly neighbor share a snack and the bear gets stuck in his chair! Rick Walton wrote the lively text and James Warhola draws a cast of funny characters. Children will want to hear this one again and again. (Ages 4-8, $14.99)

Fences can keep things in or shut things out, but they always divide. Clover knows what is on THE OTHER SIDE of the fence that stretches through town — the houses where white people live. Mama has made it clear that Clover may not climb over the fence because it isn’t safe. But that summer, a girl from the other side sits on the fence, staring over at Clover. They begin to talk and when Annie invites her to join her on the fence, they find a way to be friends. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical words are enhanced by E.B. Lewis’ watercolor illustrations. This story encourages finding ways to overcome barriers and differences.  (Ages 6-9, $16.99)

  More Treasures from Eve Bunting

David is apprehensive as his family awaits the word that JIN WOO, the baby they are adopting from Korea, is on his way. He watches the rubber ducks that have dangled above his bed since he was the new adopted baby in the family. Finally, they are off to the airport where the woman escorting the five-month-old Jin Woo explains that his name means Happy Jewel. She gives them a box containing his “hanbok”, a traditional outfit to wear on his first birthday. On the way home, David gets Jin Woo to laugh. Later that evening, Mom reads a letter from Jin Woo that she has prepared, spelling out how much love this family has to go around. David feels inspired to give his new brother his duck mobile. This touching story, by Eve Bunting, is perfect to share with adoptive families. The watercolor illustrations by Chris Soentpiet capture the facial expressions especially well. (Ages 5-8, $16.00) 

At first, Danny is proud when the tiger invites him to hop on his back. He is new in town and a bit bored. What harm could come from RIDING THE TIGER? Eve Bunting has never shied away from dealing with powerful topics and this book will take your breath away. The tiger starts off by suggesting he not tell his mother what they are doing and Danny agrees. As they travel the neighborhood people react with fear. An officer says, “You don’t want to start off riding that tiger.” But Danny discovers it is not so easy to get off, even when someone encourages him to do so. The tiger gets larger and scarier and Danny must find courage within himself to handle his fear and get down. The dramatic woodcut illustrations by David Frampton build a sense of impending disaster as David must make his choice. The tiger may stand for gangs, drugs, or anything evil that would attempt to lead children astray. Sharing this book will lead to interesting discussions about peer pressure and temptation. (Ages 6-9, $16.00)

Butterflies, Seeds & Gardens, Oh My!

“Out in the fields, eggs are hidden from view, clinging to leaves with butterfly glue”. That’s how Lois Ehlert begins WAITING FOR WINGS, a book about butterflies. She uses sun-drenched, dazzling colors in collages that show the cycle from the tiny hidden eggs, to the hungry caterpillars that hatch, to their transformation into full-grown butterflies. Along the way, we learn how life begins with the egg, how they eat, and what the parts of their bodies are called. There is a guide to help identify them and information for choosing plants that will attract them to your garden. Who could resist poring over these pages and then looking for butterflies in your neighborhood! (Ages 3-7, $17.00)

There are interesting similarities between Mrs. Spitzer’s classroom and MRS. SPITZER’S GARDEN. Room 108 has been carefully thought out to provide her students with lots of enjoyable learning experiences. She spends just as much time planning her garden. As good gardeners know, the soil has to be carefully prepared, the seeds watered and tended, and once they sprout, they are watched closely. Mrs. Spitzer understands that different plants need different things, some growing quickly, others unfolding at their own pace, some are bold and some are shy. Each year, a new garden begins, just as each fall a new class will arrive. Tricia Tusa uses ink and watercolor paintings to capture the nurturing atmosphere of Mrs. Spitzer’s classroom. Edith Pattou originally wrote this book as a gift for her daughter’s kindergarten teacher. It would be the perfect gift to thank an inspired teacher you know.   (Ages 3-7, $16.00)

A child looks out the window of his room and sees LITTLE GREEN, a busy hummingbird zipping around the flowers, jigging and jagging up and down. It sips at the hose, loops in a curlycue, ‘going, coming, softly humming’. The child watches its antics as it whizzes around or hovers in the air. When it approaches the window, he shows it what he has been doing, painting a picture filled with color and movement. Keith Baker uses a minimum of text, but a beautiful choice of language just right for young readers and artists.  (Ages 2-5, $16.00)

Easy to Read & Easy to Love Chapter Books

Paula Danziger is launching a new series of books for younger readers, illustrated by Tony Ross and based on their popular heroine Amber Brown. This easy-to-read format with full color pictures will be a great introduction to their longer chapter books. In IT’S JUSTIN TIME, AMBER BROWN, Amber wants a watch for her seventh birthday. It will help her keep tabs on best friend Justin who is always late. WHAT A TRIP, AMBER BROWN finds the two friends expecting the best vacation ever as they go camping. In the original series, which begins with Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon, Justin and his family move away. These prequels allow the friends to share more adventures. (Ages 5-8, $12.99)

Abbie Williamson longs for three things; a dog of his own, a name that doesn’t sound like a girl’s, and a growth spurt so he won’t be the smallest boy in his fourth grade class. His aunt asks him to take care of MY DOG, CAT, a tiny Yorkshire who only complicates his life. Over the next six weeks, Abbie learns some valuable lessons from Cat who shows that it’s not the size of the dog in your heart so much as the size of the heart in your dog. Author Marty Crisp adds an after word about dogs and how to choose one that is right for you. With 103 pages, this funny story proves good things do come in small packages! (Ages 7-10, $15.95)

The fourth graders in Jenny’s class are writing letters to second-graders, pretending to be mice. Jenny struggles with her letter which she signs DEAR WHISKERS and is disappointed when her pen pal, Sameera, doesn’t write back. When she discovers that Sameera doesn’t speak English, Jenny finds a way to communicate that is rewarding for both of them. Ann Whitehead Nagda got the idea for this book from her daughter’s class project and her own experience living in countries where she did not know the language. (Ages 7-10, $15.95)

Julia Alvarez calls upon family history for this funny novel about fitting in. Young Miguel recounts HOW TIA LOLA CAME TO VISIT STAY with their family. Their Vermont farmhouse feels strange, as does their new life without Papa, who stayed behind in New York after the divorce. Tia Lola has come to help Mama. She arrives with lots of luggage, wonderful stories and intriguing recipes. She is also the friendliest person Miguel has ever known, speaking to everyone to improve her fractured English. However, not all of her visit goes well. When the family flies back with her to her home for the holidays, Miguel realizes how much he has come to love her. Will she return with them or stay on the island? Miguel learns a lot about what makes people a family. (Ages 8-10, $15.95)

  Funny Fairy Tales

Do you remember that naughty little girl who visited the three bears? Fifty years have passed and GOLDILOCKS RETURNS. Feeling guilty about all the trouble she caused, Goldi is determined to set things right. Not much has changed. The bears are off on another walk so Goldi, equipped with a tool belt, starts by installing some new door locks. She replaces their porridge with Rutabaga Breakfast Bars and uses her glue gun to repair Baby Bear’s chair. You’ll laugh out loud as you read this funny sequel written and illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst.
(Ages 4-8, $16.00)

Have you ever wondered about Rumplestiltskin? Just who was he? Why did he help the miller’s daughter? If she really had been able to spin straw into gold, why were they so poor? Therein lies THE RUMPLESTILTSKIN PROBLEM. Vivian Vande Velde offers six “alternative” versions of this famous story, some funny, some scary. These read aloud very well and may inspire readers to look at this and other fairy tales in a new way.  (Ages 8–12, $15.00)

Fiction for Older Readers

  Funny Fairy Tales
Well-written historical fiction can transport us to another time and place. Elisa Carbone’s novel is based on the true story of a heroic group of men who manned a life-saving station off the North Carolina coast in 1895. Over 100 years later these STORM WARRIORS have been awarded highest honors for an unbelievable rescue performed at great risk. It is told through the eyes of young Nathan, who aspires to become a “surfman”. He has moved to this remote place with his Daddy to get away from the Ku Klux Klan. Daddy wants him to study hard and become a doctor and Nathan does loves schooling. In fact, his love of books leads to a near tragedy when he “borrows” a book about first aid from the station and it is buried following a violent storm. One stormy night, a wreck is sighted with many passengers still on board. The surfmen jump into action and Nathan finds a way to participate in the rescue. Filled with drama and action, this is a real page-turner. (Ages 10+, $16.95) 

Nicole Burns is visiting an Anne Frank exhibit in an American suburb when she is suddenly transported back to occupied Paris in 1942 as the Nazi death grip tightens on that city. A bizarre accident brings her into contact with Anne Frank and others forced into hiding to stay alive. Her personal problems pale into insignificance when she realizes she has become a Jewish girl and must obey all the restrictions placed on her. It is based on the award-winning play, ANNE FRANK AND ME, by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld. You will be absolutely drawn into this novel filled with courage and cowardice, honor and betrayal. It will change you, as it changed Nicole. (Ages 10+, $18.99)

It is 1863 and Ben plans to track down his brother who is fighting in the Civil War. Their Pa has died and Ben hopes Reuben will come home to take over their country store, a job Ben despises. Reuben’s dog, Captain, has ignored Ben up until now but trails along as he heads into enemy territory. To further complicate things, Ben’s pesky younger cousin, Danny, insists on being part of the adventure. Pa had told him there would be things in life that wouldn’t seem fair but somebody had to shoulder them. Danny seems to be one of those trials. The party has one other member, a stray cow named Mavis. They have scary encounters with rebel soldiers and difficult decisions to make. Through it all, it is the dog who keeps them safe, earning his title of PRIVATE CAPTAIN. They get caught up in the battle of Gettysburg, where Captain runs off to find Reuben … and doesn’t come back. Nonstop action, by Marty Crisp, lightened with touches of humor; make this book hard to put down.
(Ages 10+, $18.99)

Ahoy Brian Jacques Fans!

In a departure from his enormously popular fantasy series about the animals who inhabit Redwall Abbey, master storyteller Brian Jacques begins a new series with CASTAWAYS OF THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. Intrigued by the legends of the doomed vessel, he spins a yarn about her despicable Captain Vanderdecken and his bloodthirsty crew. What lead to their awful fate? Stowed away aboard the ship in 1620 are a mute orphan, Ned, and a huge black dog, Denmark. When the Captain tries to force his ship around Cape Horn he is thrice beaten back by vicious storms. Driven insane, threatened by his mutinous crew, he dares to defy the Lord. In return, they are all cursed to sail the waters of the world for eternity. But Ned and Denmark are washed overboard to become castaways wandering the earth, aiding those in need. This wandering brings them to a small village where they try to help a widow and prevent a greedy man from destroying the land. Jacques’ fans will recognize his signature, a riddle that must be solved to find a missing treasure, in this case the deed to the widow’s home. The boy and the dog can read each other’s thoughts, often adding humor to the story. Readers will look forward eagerly to future installments. (Ages 10+, $22.95)

New Nonfiction

Gary Paulsen has developed a loyal following of young people who love to read the stories he writes about survival. His character, Brian, first introduced in Hatchet, faced many obstacles in the sequels, The River, Brian’s Winter, and Brian’s Return. Now Paulsen relates the real events behind the fiction. He takes readers on his first hunting trips describing a vicious moose attack and dealing with a swarm of mosquitoes, and explains how he made a bow and arrow. You wonder how he survived to write his books and tell these humorous stories on himself. The answer is … it took GUTS. This book will delight Paulsen’s fans and introduce others to his writing. (Ages 8-12, $16.95)

In 1913, a Canadian Arctic expedition became stuck in the ice. Aboard were the captain and crew, scientists, and an Inupiat family. THE LAMP, THE ICE, AND THE BOAT CALLED FISH is based on their true adventure. It begins with the history of the lamp, given to the family by their grandmother. Carved in stone, the seal oil lamp uses wicks made from moss. The family, which includes two young daughters, goes aboard Kartuk, which is Aleutian for “fish”, to help the explorers survive the harsh conditions. They need fur clothes and fresh meat from seals. The explorers and scientists learn much from the family as they endure many hardships, waiting for the ice to thaw. There is a dramatic scene when the ship sinks and everyone is marooned on an island of ice. Jacqueline Briggs Martin did extensive research that brings the journey to life, letting the reader experience both the excitement and boredom of this long journey. Beth Krommes’ illustrations are exquisite, rounded scratchboard pictures, filled with details that show skills like sewing boots, cutting snow houses, and outfitting a dog sled. On the back cover is a map of their expedition. (Ages 6 & up, $15.00)

Holidays and Inspiration

Susan Wheeler, a best-selling greeting card artist, has created the gentle woodland world of Holly Pond Hill. That is the setting for A CHILD’S BOOK OF BLESSINGS, a board-book collection of Bible verses, spiritual poems, traditional blessings, and prayers. It would make a thoughtful and treasured gift for Easter, First Communion, or birthdays. (Ages 4-8, $9.99)

LOVE IS ... patient, love is kind. … Love does not insist on its own way.” Using colored pencil and watercolors, Wendy Anderson Halperin illustrates the well-known passage from I Corinthians. Her multifaceted drawings compare a world with love to an alternate loveless world. Without love, we see strife, selfishness, rudeness. With love, we see the same situations with generosity, kindness and cooperation. This book gives us a lovely way to talk with children about how their attitudes and actions can affect the world they live in. Halperin used ideas gathered from her own children and their friends as inspiration for her illustrations. (All ages, $16.00)

Each spring Sarah, Max, and their five children look forward to celebrating Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that honors the day Moses received the Ten Commandments. There never seems to be enough to feed the family, much less extra to make A MOUNTAIN OF BLINTZES (pancakes with a sweet filling). Sarah and Max take on odd jobs, but the coins get spent on other things. While their parents have been working hard, the children have secretly earned the ingredients needed for the blintzes. Author Barbara Diamond Goldin’s story is about the true meaning of cooperation and Anik McGrory’s bright watercolor illustrations capture the humor. 
(Ages 5-8, $16.00)

April is Poetry Month

This beautiful book brings together 19 quilt patterns designed by author/illustrator Anna Grossnickle Hines with seasonal poems. PIECES, A Year in Poems & Quilts, is a delight for the eyes and the ears. Wander through each season enjoying the rhythm of the words and the intricacy of the quilts. A fascinating note on the making of quilts is included. Here is a sampling entitled Good Heavens. “Our lawn is astronomical/with dandelion blooms./A green sky filled/with a thousand suns/and then/a thousand moons/that with a puff/of wind become/a hundred thousand stars.” (Ages 5+, $15.95)

Hop on in to Douglas Florian’s “toadally” outrageous collection of 21 reptile and amphibian poems entitled LIZARDS, FROGS, AND POLLIWOGS. Familiar animals are featured such as the box turtle, the newt and the chameleon. Not so familiar ones include the Komoda dragon, the glass frog, and the spring peepers. Florian has also done the art in watercolor on primed brown paper bags with collage. Sure to please the scaley-crawley critter fans in your family or classroom. (Ages 5-10, $16.00)

Well-known poet and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko leads would-be poets through the writing process in HOW TO WRITE POETRY. He offers suggestions like keeping a journal and creating a Poet’s Wordbank. Tips and examples encourage and support young writers in chapters that describe how to begin, how to explore different poetry styles, and what to do when your poem is finished. There is a glossary and a checklist of good poetry books.  (Ages 9-14, $6.95)

What better way to celebrate Poetry Month than with A POCKETFUL OF POEMS by Nikki Grimes? Tiana has a pocketful of words that she uses to create pairs of poems; one in free verse and one in haiku. She starts with her own name and then tells us more about her world by using words like spring, pigeon, Harlem, and angels. Each set of poems is cleverly illustrated by Javaka Steptoe’s collages using everyday items like beads and wires, feathers and shells, pie tins and faucet handles. The haiku poems use just seventeen syllables to create “a sort of painting in miniature”. The book is a treat from beginning to end with colorful endpapers and an author’s note, which encourages readers to try writing haiku of their own.
(Ages 6-10, $15.00)

Celebrating Our History

WE THE PEOPLE is a wonderful way to view our history. Bobbi Katz has written 65 poems that illuminate and define the challenges and triumphs of five centuries of brave Americans. Written in first-person, they range from pioneers to presidents, from servants to freedom fighters, from regular kids to astronauts. Each poem begins with the character’s name, where they are from, and the year the poem represents. This compelling chorus of voices can be read aloud individually, with two voices, or as an ensemble. (Ages 8+, $15.95) 

One evening in 1865, as he waits to accompany his wife to the theatre, ABE LINCOLN REMEMBERS. He thinks back on his childhood, his love of reading, working on a flatboat. Later, he became a lawyer and got into politics, which led to the Presidency. How grieved he felt as the country was divided by a bitter war. Now is a time for healing. He hopes this evening will be a happy one, despite how much there is still to be done. The book stops there. A historical note from author Ann Turner sums up the life of this great and inspiring President. The paintings by Wendell Minor capture the man and his times. (Ages 6-9, $15.95)

A different view is presented in ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE WRITER, a treasury of his greatest speeches and letters. Harold Holzer has compiled a book for young readers that shows Lincoln’s transformation from country lawyer to outspoken politician to wartime president. It also includes examples of his poetry. Excerpts from his letters show his compassion and humor such as the letter of recommendation to George D. Ramsay, “The lady-bearer of this says she has two sons who want to work. Set them at it, if possible. Wanting to work is so rare a merit, that is should be encouraged. Yours truly. A. Lincoln.”
(All ages, $15.95)

Good news for those who love maps and history! Authors Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley have created two books that are both atlases and storybooks. JOURNEYS IN TIME: A New Atlas of American History and PLACES IN TIME: A New Atlas of American History are atlases of American history chock full of thousands of visual and verbal facts. Each book has twenty chronologically ordered “story maps” where you can discover what it was like to live in one place at a certain time or to follow one person’s journey. It covers the pilgrims and the pioneers, soldiers and children, explorers and everyday citizens. It is fun to peek at America’s past, visiting historical sites that shaped our history or tag along with a boy who sailed with Columbus, a New England woman on her way to the gold rush, or a young musician whose dreams come true.   (Ages 8 & up, $15.00 each)

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