Follow along as I take a journey through the world of children's and teen books! Hear about great new books, undiscovered titles, and old all but forgotten classics.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On The Night You Were Born

On the Night You Were Born

Author/Illustrator: Nancy Tillman
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Pages: 32
Recommended Age: Newborn +

From author/illustrator Nancy Tillman comes this beautiful(and very sentimental) picture book all about how special and unique each new baby is. With passages like "the night wind whispered, 'life will never be the same'", the basic premise of this book is to tell a baby that when he or she was born the whole world rejoiced. It emphasizes the uniqueness of each new life without being overly sappy. Absolutely stunning illustrations accompany sweet, lyrical text.

This book is a perfect book for parents to read to a new baby(admittedly, this is one of those books that is more for the parents than it is for the baby, but kids who grow up with it will likely remember it with the same fondness as books like Runaway Bunny and Guess How Much I Love You). It is also a perfect baby shower gift, pair it with a stuffed polar bear and the baby journal The Wonder Of You: A Book Celebrating Baby's First Year.

On The Night You Were Born and companion titles:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elephant and Piggie: Are You Ready To Play Outside?

Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Pages: 64
Recommended Age: 2+

For anyone who's kids have become obsessed with the Knuffle Bunny books or the Pigeon books(Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, etc), you are already familiar with Mo Willems's unique style of storytelling. The Elephant and Piggie books are a fantastic series he has created. The elephant, who's name is Gerald, and the pig, whose name is Piggie are best friends who interact with each other in a fun, goofy, exuberant way. Each book also has a specific message or sentiment it is trying to impart.

Are You Ready to Play Outside is all about how sometimes you make plans and they don't work out the way you expected, but different can still be just as fun. Gerald and Piggie meet up to play, and they are going to run and skip and have all sorts of fun....until it starts to rain. Piggie gets very upset and even throws a bit of a tantrum, screaming, "I DO NOT LIKE RAIN!!!!!!!!!" You can imagine Gerald and Piggie's surprise when a couple of worms come out and they are excited, because they LOVE to play in the rain! Gerald and Piggie hesitantly decide to give it a shot and quickly discover that they have as much fun splashing through puddles as they would have running and skipping.

In addition to being great fun for kids, these books also function as easy readers for kids who are just learning to read. They use simple vocabulary and repetition to help children become more comfortable with reading even just by the end of the given book. The author never uses shortcuts with language, so they are overflowing with article and there are always a few words that are repeated over and over again throughout the story.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Story Before Bed


A Story Before Bed is an amazing service being offered, essentially an online book reading service. What you do is pick out a book and record yourself reading it to your child/grandchild directly into your webcam, then the child can go into the account any time they want(and as many times as they want) to play it back. The on screen design shows the pages of the book as the recording is playing on a secondary box on the screen(see above picture). They have a great selection ranging from less known low cost books to bestsellers priced slightly higher. The cost is very reasonable, and you can pay per book or do a subscription that starts at $29.95/year(not all the book are available for subscriptions, so make sure you check the subscription list before signing up).

Great for family members who live far away, parents who travel a lot for business, and deployed military parents.

Also, for those military parents who are deployed or deploying, A Story Before Bed is giving away free recordings: http://www.astorybeforebed.com/military

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Recommended Age: 9+

Neil Gaiman is one of the major names in YA and children's science fiction. Even if you don't realize it, most likely you are familiar with his work. The animated movie Coraline and the live-action Stardust(Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes) were both made from books by Neil Gaiman.

With The Graveyard Book, he has absolutely outdone himself, so much so that he was won a Newbery Award for it. The book is a sort of reverse ghost story, crossed with the classic boy raised by wolves concept. Instead of being a tale where the graveyard is the scary place and the ghosts are the bad guys, this story is about a boy who wound up alone in a graveyard as a baby, where the resident ghosts promptly adopt and raise him. It becomes a fun coming of age story where life lessons are learned in a most unique fashion until, finally, the boy finds that he must leave the graveyard and venture into the world beyond.

Warning: the book does open on a scary note(the boy ends up in the graveyard after his family is stabbed to death by a serial killer), but reverts to a child-friendly style immediately after that scene.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Your Cloud

Author: Joe Troiano
Illustrator: Martha Aviles
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Pages: 32
Recommended Age: 2+

So this book is no longer in print, but used copies are available online, and I think this book is just too good to pass up. When we had it at Barnes and Noble I used it for storytime on a regular basis and the kids always loved it.

This book doesn't have a plot, but is rather a book-length rhyme about cloud watching. It is all about creativity and the fun of looking for clouds that look like things. One pages says, "It's your cloud. it can be what you like-a moose playing baseball, or a mouse on a bike."

This would be a great book to take outside on a nice day! Your kids will have a blast laughing at all the silly ideas in the book and then watching the clouds over their heads for similar images.

Available used:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Children's Treasury of Mythology

Children's Treasury of Mythology (Volland Collection)

Author: adapted my multiple editors
Illustrator: Margaret Evans Price
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 158
Recommended Age: 5+

This is actually the mythology book that I remember from when I was a child. The book was originally published in 1993 as "A Child's Book of Myths and Enchantment Tales", and was picked up and republished in 2007 by Barnes and Noble as a part of their bargain book collection.

It is a collection of 20 Greek/Roman myths, beautifully illustrated by Margaret Evans Price and adapted to suit a young audience.The collection uses the Greek names in some places and the Roman in others, so you will find "Proserpina and Pluto" in place of "Persephone and Hades", though the story is the same to both the Greeks and Romans. Each story is written simply enough to be accessible to the younger ages, and the classic Greek and Roman morbidity is toned down as much as possible without outright changing the plot(Apollo still accidentally turns Daphne into a tree and Prometheus still gets chained to a cliff for giving fire to man, etc).

The book itself is also a wonderful, classic looking design with cloth binding. It will easily become a treasured collection of classic stories and give children a valuable first look at mythology.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Author: Robin McKinley
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Recommended Age: 8+

Robin McKinley has won a Newbery Medal for her book Hero and the Crown, and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Beauty, however, is my hands-down favorite of her books, as well as being one of my favorite books ever read.

Released 13 years before the Disney movie, it could easily have served as a major source of inspiration for the movie's creators. The story sits somewhere between the original French folktale and the Disney adaptation.

McKinley has a true gift for writing. Her stunningly elegant prose have the kind of flow that made the old classics such a pleasure to read, while keeping the language accessible for modern youth.

The book can generally be found in the teen section of the bookstore, which is an accurate placement in terms of level of difficulty. If, however, you have a younger advanced reader, have no fear in giving them this book as well. The content is entirely appropriate for any age.