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.

May 18, 2015

THE FARMER and the CLOWN and my DAD: RED NOSE DAY

Beach Lane Books
In a prior post about unlikely friendships I wrote about author/illustrator Marla Frazee's 2014 picture book, THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. This wordless wonder earned my praise and the accolades of many, including being named an ALA Notable Book. 

I felt compelled to return to it in this post as RED NOSE DAY approaches. This event/concept/cause originated in England with a goal of lifting children from poverty. It combined smile-inducing red-noses with a sincere fund-raising effort to fight hunger, homelessness, and other needs in the very young.

A couple of years ago the project crossed the Atlantic and took root in the USA. It's become a composite of commercial, entertainment, and individual efforts to support kids in need with the immediacy of smile-inducing red noses while making substantial contributions to established organizations with kids at their centers. In 2015 our official RED NOSE DAY is May 21.

Dad, as Raggedy Andy
The cause seems worthy enough, and I have my own red nose at the ready. But that date reminded me of something important about red noses, clowns, and good intentions.
May 21 happens to be my dad's birthday, and he just happened to be a clown. He volunteered for many years with a professionally trained clown unit dedicated to serving those in need. They visited adults and senior centers, but their most dedicated efforts were aimed at children, particularly in hospitals. 
When Dad was accepted in the unit he intentionally chose Raggedy Andy as his character, knowing that some kids (and adults) are actually afraid of clowns. His red nose was painted on and he carried a Raggedy Andy doll with him so that his face would be a familiar, friendly one. 
Frazee's story makes it heartbreakingly clear that painted faces and red noses can mask genuine emotions. At the risk of taking a worthy cause down a somber lane, let's not mask the truth that a red nose or a one day event will never be enough to do the heavy lifting needed to ensure that every child in this country has food security, a safe and loving home, and community stability. 

It takes consistent and repeated effort, return trips, and putting ourselves in the place of those in need to find smiles beneath the paint and red noses. The Farmer stretched himself far beyond his routines to lift the child from his sadness and in doing so raised his own spirits. Dad did the same, month after month, year after year. 
Let's resolve to make the effort, on this occasion and repeatedly, to bring smiles and support into the lives of those who are least able to help themselves.


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.