Jul 12, 2015

Jane Goodall and Doyli: Making Dreams Come True

Earlier this spring I wrote about a young girl who is devoting herself to a project of the heart. 
Crick hollow Books, 2015

DOYLI TO THE RESCUE: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon by Cathleen Burnham is the first of a series of nonfiction photo profiles of young people who are making a difference in the world through individual actions. 
Hers is an appealing story, and one that could inspire young readers to identify and solve problems in their own neighborhoods or around the world. 



Little, Brown Books for young Readers
Perhaps the best known example of a child-activist-turned-adult-icon is Jane Goodall. There are any number of books about her life and commitment to chimpanzees and other primates. Of the many picture books about her, Patrick McDonnell's 2011 biography, Me...Jane is my personal favorite. 
It allows young readers (and those of us no longer young) to recognize the importance of fostering the interests of a young child. 
The apparent "obsession" of a child with dinosaurs, chimpanzees, frogs, or planets is so much more significant than providing a "wow" moment on a talk-show segment or FaceBook video. It may be the first steps in a lifetime of groundbreaking achievements.


National Geographic Kids, 2015
A recent release by National Geographic Kids has elevated McDonnell's introductory approach to Goodall's biography to new heights. UNTAMED: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey is a fascinating and accessible read. Silvey's text reads as compellingly as fiction, taking us inside the experiences of a young girl who was so fascinated by animal observation that she would disappear for hours to observe and report what she had learned from nature. The narrative of her life is well-researched and enriched by quotations, artifacts, and anecdotes.
The simplest experiences (reading Doctor Doolittle, her neighbor-dog Rusty, and a nature club she created as a child) each served as one of those child-like steps toward her eventual life path. 
Goodall writes the forward to this book and urges young people around the world to participate in her Roots and Shoots program, engaging with conservation NOW in whatever region of the world they might live. 

The last third of this remarkable book is titled FIELD NOTES: Resources and More. It includes information about chimpanzees, including the Gombe family of chimps, a timeline of Jane's life and accomplishments, maps, extensive resources, chapter notes, and an index. The author's note describes the extensive resources and documentation that make this a definitive biography.

One of the first quotations to appear in this book is not from Jane but from her mother, Vanne Morris-Goodall:
"If you really want something, and you really work hard, and you take advantage of opportunities, and above all if you never give up, you will find a way."

Let's do what we can to help every child know that about themselves. A good place to start is by sharing books like these that portray real young people pursuing their dreams and making a real difference in the world.


Jun 25, 2015

Summertime, and the READING Is EASY! Book Recommendations from the BEST!

The blogosphere is alive and well with summer reading suggestions for all ages. That relieves some of my guilt about not posting recently and allows me to indulge in the summer pleasure of exploring new titles myself.

I've been writing intensely for several weeks, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading. I keep notes on those titles on Goodreads, where I'm accumulating a pool of favorites to feature here once my head gets above water on the writing front. If anyone is curious about my recent reads, follow me on my GOODREADS account, here

If you're looking for summer suggestions (and you should be!), I'm more than happy to direct you to a variety of outstanding blog posts.
Tops on my list would be Mary Ann Scheuer's GREAT KID BOOKS posts promoting #FAMILIESREAD. She features appealing titles for all ages, quick "booster" tips to make shared family reading a treasured habit, and sidebar links to organize the VAST array of previous reviews for every age and taste.
This blog has been one of my favorite reliable sources for quality recommendations for several years. Do yourself a favor and read this and other recent posts, then subscribe for yourselves.


I feel just as enthusiastic about Alyson Beecher's KID LIT FRENZY blog. This link is to a recent nonfiction Wednesday post, but you can't go wrong checking what she has to say any day of the week. The titles she features include ones getting lots of "buzz" as well as those slipping under the radar but well worth reading. Her recommendations make me feel I'm not missing out on the best of the best. 

Speaking of the best of the best, one final resource you won't want to miss, especially for summer choice reading: iNKThinkTank. Created by premier, award-winning, INTERESTING NONFICTION picture book AUTHORS, the site includes links to nonfiction minutes, a nonfiction database, and the authors themselves.
Summer is the ideal time for family reading of titles that both answer and stimulate questions, books that invite further reading and real-world exploration. Books that are just plain COOL.

So what are you waiting for? 
Click the inks to these amazing sites and get your summer reading underway!

May 30, 2015

Catching Up with Some Recent Reads



Random House Children's Books
Published 1990
Show of hands... how many of you know Dr. Seuss's annual bestseller, 
OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO? It is classic Seuss in every respect, and is a perennial NYT bestseller as a perfect book gift during the spring season of graduations, leaving-for-college (or camp), or even beginning a new job. It appeals to the youngest in rollicking verse and colorful images, but the undeniable truth is that the message it contains resonates as much or more with those transitioning and facing new challenges.
I've "gifted" it to more people than I can count. 

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May, 2015

As soon as WHEREVER YOU GO released, my advance order copies showed up in my mailbox.
This brilliant new picture book release with words by Pat Zietlow Miller and art by Eliza Wheeler has nudged my old favorite aside. Miller's minimal but fluid text spins across the pages like the hum of bicycle wheels, rising and falling, twisting and turning the reader on a journey of  joyful possibilities. It glows, it gleams, it promises both unexpected surprises and familiar comforts. 
Wheeler's illustrations achieve the magic of scaffolding, elevating, and enhancing that text with similarly fluid grace. Her details carry countless "subplots" throughout while never distracting from the central character's magical experiences. 
It's already a favorite and a genuine "keeper", but I'll also be "gifting" it countless times.


In the coming days (weeks?) I'll catch up some other recent reads here. For now, spend a few minutes exploring what others have said about the wonders of WHEREVER YOU GO. Artist Eliza Wheeler describes the process she used to create her art in this post on Picture Book Builders blog, here.
Then read this Kirkus starred review, here, and Publishers' Weekly starred review here.
You'll be hopping on your own wheels to get to the library and check it out. 
Then buy a copy for yourself or for someone you love.

Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.