With My Hands

Some­times, a book comes across my desk that sparkles like a gem, attract­ing my atten­tion, insist­ing that I stop what I’m doing and read it. This hap­pened when With My Hands: Poems about Mak­ing Things arrived last week. I thought I’d take a peek. Next thing you know, I was clos­ing the last page of the book, sigh­ing with con­tent­ment. And then I knew I had to read the book all over again.… more
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The Magic Misfits

The Magic Misfits

I’m one of those peo­ple that often reads a celebri­ty-writ­ten book because I’d like to find one that defies the odds. How about you? Did you get over the won­der­ing at a cer­tain point? Or do you still give a new star-pow­ered book a try? Sad­ly, I don’t often find a celebri­ty book I can rec­om­mend. This time, though, I’m prac­ti­cal­ly shout­ing: Read this book!… more
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The Secret Kingdom

The Secret Kingdom

This book is irre­sistible. For all kinds of reasons. Remem­ber when you were a kid, or maybe you do this now, how you’d take what­ev­er was at hand and cre­ate a house, a camp, an entire set­ting for you to play in? Where you could act out your sto­ries? Did you do this with found items from nature? Or things your fam­i­ly was throw­ing away?… more
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Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Mighty Jack

We are thrust into the midst of the action, which nev­er stops until the epi­logue. This is how Ben Hatke tells a story. We don’t know what’s going on. There’s no set­up. Instead, we quick­ly learn that Jack is climb­ing some veg­e­ta­tive mat­ter to find the ogre who kid­napped his sis­ter Mad­dy and take her home. His friend, Lil­ly, no side­kick, is climb­ing along­side him.… more
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Maurice the Unbeastly

For The Beast in Us All

The theme of being your­self is famil­iar. Many books, movies, and plays are devot­ed to this idea. When it’s done well, we all sit up a lit­tle straighter, laugh more con­fi­dent­ly, and dream about all the things we’d like to do to be true to who we are. Chil­dren need to hear this mes­sage often so anoth­er book, one that tells the sto­ry in a dif­fer­ent way, is welcome.… more
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Rufus Blasts Off!

No Pigs in Space?

Some of my read­ers know that the very first sto­ry I wrote (in sec­ond grade) was Pigs in Space. I still have it. I still won­der what­ev­er prompt­ed me to write it. This was before the Mup­pets launched their pigs into space. And it was def­i­nite­ly before Kim T. Griswell and Valeri Gor­bachev launched their pig into space in Rufus Blasts Off!… more
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Journeys

Proof

If you ever doubt that kids are affect­ed by books, read any one of these let­ters. They will touch your heart deeply. You’ll remem­ber each two- or three-page mis­sive and the ardent con­nec­tion to the book. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll more than like­ly be moved to read (or re-read!) the book that prompt­ed the child to write a let­ter to the book’s author.… more
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Imaginary Selves

Each of us knows well the per­son we imag­ine our­selves to be. I’m guess­ing that this imag­i­nary per­son has changed shape and iden­ti­ty through­out your life. As a child, do you remem­ber your secret iden­ti­ty? Mine was a fear­less super­hero ver­sion of myself, because fear­less I was not. If Richard Tor­rey had known that, he sure­ly would have drawn me a cape and mys­ti­cal arm­bands and a tiny crown with his tal­ent­ed, per­cep­tive vision and his oil-based pencils. … more
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Jabari Jumps

August Shorts

Pic­ture books you’ll want to add to your repertoire! Touch the Bright­est Star
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Christie Matheson
Green­wil­low Books, 2017. A night-time book, set­tling down for bed, qui­et­ly look­ing at the pages, hear­ing the sto­ry. An inter­ac­tive book? Yes, because the author/illustrator wise­ly invites the read­er and lis­ten­er to touch the pages, to help the mag­ic of the evening unfold.… more
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Me, All Alone, at the End of the World

Me, All Alone, Reading This Book

Some­times, the illus­tra­tions are won­der­ful but the lan­guage is cap­ti­vat­ing. You know how you read a pic­ture book and you can’t decide which part to focus on? Should you look at the pic­ture first? Should you read the sto­ry because it’s the thread that’s pulling you through? Well, when you read “He was a long-leggedy man with a wide, wide hat and a beard in a cir­cle around his head.… more
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The Best Wish of All

Once in awhile I find a book on my read­ing pile that I’ve passed by a few times. It might be that the cov­er doesn’t make sense to me and I shuf­fle through to choose anoth­er title. Or the title might be sil­ly (in my mind) and I don’t open the book because some­thing else catch­es my inter­est. And then one day I open that book and I dis­cov­er that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cov­er.… more
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Kids' Book of Questions

Summer Travel

Here are three words that may be loom­ing large in your mind: Long. Car. Trip. You’re pack­ing games, snacks, an audio book or two, sev­er­al books to take turns read­ing out loud, and … The Kids’ Book of Ques­tions. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and we went on long car trips (near­ly every week­end), I read a lot (which must have been bor­ing for my mom), but the two of us also sang songs, talked over the week we had just explored, and, if we were head­ing to fam­i­ly, expec­ta­tions for behav­ior.… more
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Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

Superheroes and Bad Days

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wish­ing for an hon­est-to-good­ness super­hero to save the day. If adults are feel­ing that way, kids, who pick up all of our emo­tions, are wish­ing for the same thing. Bat­man and Won­der Woman led the list of most pop­u­lar Hal­loween cos­tumes in 2016. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of super­hero movies is hard to ignore.… more
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Judge Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Chef Roy Choi’s Story

Every time I re-read this book, it makes me hap­pi­er. I’ve grown quite fond of the books being pub­lished by Read­ers to Eaters and I eager­ly antic­i­pate each new book. Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix is anoth­er food arti­san biog­ra­phy from Jacque­line Brig­gs Mar­tin, this time co-writ­ten with June Jo Lee. Jack­ie writes the fla­vor­ful essence of the artist in an irre­sistible recipe of words.… more
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If You Were the Moon

March Shorts

Oooo! Here in Min­neso­ta, shorts in March mean chills. These books will give you chills – in a good way! Cat Goes Fiddle-I-Fee
Adapt­ed and illus­trat­ed by Paul Galdone
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 1985 
(reis­sued in April 2017) I rec­og­nized the title imme­di­ate­ly as I song I know well, sung as “I Had a Roost­er” by Pete Seeger on Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Lit­tle Fish­es in 1968.… more
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I’ve Been Enchanted

This is a rare admis­sion from me because it’s about a book whose main char­ac­ters are ani­mals. I’ve stat­ed before in this col­umn that ani­mal books have nev­er been a favorite of mine, even as a child. Sure­ly there are oth­ers of you out there who are too shy to admit the same thing? In my deter­mi­na­tion to read old­er children’s books that I haven’t read before, I’ve just fin­ished a book that has shown me I can adore books about ani­mals: The Hotel Cat by Esther Aver­ill, a Jenny’s Cat Club book.… more
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When Jackie Saved Grand Central

Those Kennedys

Amer­i­ca has a fine tra­di­tion of elect­ed offi­cials who care deeply about the peo­ple, places, and poli­cies of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. Two recent books high­light the good works of, and respect for, Jacque­line Bou­vi­er Kennedy Onas­sis and John Fitzger­ald Kennedy, the First Lady and Pres­i­dent from 1961 to 1963. Although Pres­i­dent Kennedy was assas­si­nat­ed just two short years into his term as Pres­i­dent, the First Lady con­tin­ued her work for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple through­out her life.… more
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Fish Girl

Graphic Storytelling

  A good graph­ic nov­el should pose a mystery. As it opens (last pos­si­ble minute), the read­er often has no clue what’s going on. It’s often an unknown world, even if it looks like our world. This isn’t that dif­fer­ent than the open­ing of a con­ven­tion­al print book but, for some rea­son, peo­ple often react to graph­ic nov­els by telling me, “I can’t read them!… more
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Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?

The Delight of Reading Older Books

One of my favorite types of read­ing is to go back and read books I’ve missed from years ago. I once spent an entire sum­mer read­ing books that were pub­lished in the 1950s. I had such a strong feel­ing of the decade after read­ing those books that I felt more con­nect­ed to peo­ple who lived then. That feel­ing of con­nec­tion is very sat­is­fy­ing to me.… more
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How Things Work

Irresistible Reading: How Things Work

Now, if that Sci­ence Ency­clo­pe­dia wasn’t cool enough, here’s anoth­er sure-fire hit for kids who love to read facts, true sto­ries, and know how things work. In fact, the book is called How Things Work and it’s anoth­er pow­er­house from Nation­al Geographic. As the book admon­ish­es, “PUT THIS BOOK DOWN NOW. It’s dan­ger­ous. It might make you think you can do impos­si­ble things.”… more
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Science Encyclopedia

Feeding the Naturally Curious Brain

You’ll dis­cov­er mouth­less worms and walk­ing ferns … ” (pg. 13) And with those words, I’m charged up for the hunt. Along the way, I can’t help being dis­tract­ed by a sat­is­fy­ing amount of irre­sistible infor­ma­tion in Nation­al Geo­graph­ic’s Sci­ence Ency­clo­pe­dia. If you learn best visu­al­ly, there is a sur­feit of images to stim­u­late a curi­ous mind. If you learn best ver­bal­ly, then this book is chock full of words arranged in the most inter­est­ing ways.… more
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Before Morning

Essential Holiday Giving: Books

Hands down, there is no bet­ter gift for hol­i­days or birth­days than a book. You can find a book to suit every inter­est, every taste, and your bud­get. You can always feel good about giv­ing a book (unless you’re giv­ing a gift to some­one who lives in a Tiny House … ask first).  Here’s my list of sug­ges­tions for the hol­i­days. It’s filled with books that are infor­ma­tive, beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed or pho­tographed, use­ful, well-writ­ten, but most­ly books that can be savored or cher­ished, with uplift­ing stories.… more
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Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit

Orbiting Kindergarten

That live­ly, quirky-think­ing duo from Plan­et Kinder­garten have teamed up once again for Plan­et Kinder­garten: 100 Days in Orbit. Many schools use the 100-day mark­er to reflect on how far they’ve come since the first day of kinder­garten. Social graces, eti­quette, mind­ful­ness, assign­ments, singing, pledges … they’re all includ­ed in this new book. But the extra-fun twist is that our hero recounts the entire sto­ry as a trip into space aboard a star­ship filled with aliens and a thought­ful commander. … more
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Sleep Tight Farm

Tucked In for the Winter

Every detail in this book is heart­warm­ing. You know that the author and the illus­tra­tor and the book’s pub­lish­ing team put a lot of love and respect into bring­ing this sto­ry to readers. From the moment you see the open­ing end papers, a for­est and pas­ture ablaze with fall col­or, until you dis­cov­er the clos­ing end papers, that same for­est with the snowy skele­tons of those trees, you sense the care within.… more
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Anything But Ordinary Addie

Women Can Be Magicians, Too!

In a sump­tu­ous pic­ture book biog­ra­phy, author Mara Rock­liff and illus­tra­tor Iacopo Bruno give us the life of Ade­laide Scarcez Her­rmann, a real per­son who lived from 1853 to 1932. Dur­ing her 79 years, she was an actress, a dancer, a vaude­vil­lian, and she was shot out of a can­non. As the title says, she was Any­thing but Ordi­nary Addie.… more
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Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook

Everything You Need to Ace Five Subjects

I’ve had this TBR pile of five very attrac­tive, come-hith­er-look­ing books beg­ging to be rec­om­mend­ed for weeks now. The spines are bright pri­ma­ry col­ors so I know that even when I shelve them they will be call­ing to me. And I think they’ll be call­ing to your stu­dents as well. I open what are for me the two scari­est vol­umes (eat your veg­eta­bles first — oops, as an adult, I find I LOVE veg­eta­bles), Every­thing You Need to Know to Ace Sci­ence in One Fat Note­book: Notes Bor­rowed from the Smartest Kid in Class (Dou­ble-Checked by Award-Win­ning Teacher) and Every­thing You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Note­book: Notes Bor­rowed from the Smartest Kid in Class (Dou­ble-Checked by Award-Win­ning Teacher).… more
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Comics Confidential

Those Alluring Comics Storytellers

When I began work­ing as, and think­ing of myself as, a graph­ic design­er, I assumed that all of my ideas would have to spring out of my mind … and that was ter­ri­fy­ing. (Think of the oft-asked ques­tion, “Where do your ideas come from?”) I didn’t think I was cre­ative enough or wide­ly trav­eled enough or even edu­cat­ed enough as a graph­ic design­er to come up with ideas that would trans­late into smart, pleas­ing designs on paper or a com­put­er screen.… more
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Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie

Apples, Well-Being, and Family

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Sto­ry about Edna Lewis is a mem­o­rable book about grow­ing food through­out the sea­sons and liv­ing off the land in Vir­ginia. Wild straw­ber­ry, purslane, dan­de­lions, sas­safras, hon­ey. As spring rides the breeze into sum­mer, this extend­ed fam­i­ly tends to their larder, tak­ing full advan­tage of the fruits, nuts, and veg­eta­bles grow­ing around them.… more
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Roy's House

Welcome to Roy’s House

What bet­ter way to famil­iar­ize one’s self with the work of pop cul­ture artist Roy Licht­en­stein than to walk through his house from liv­ing room to snack bar, from bath­room to bed­room, and final­ly into his stu­dio, where we can try our hand at painting? Susan Gold­man Rubin and her team at Chron­i­cle have cre­at­ed a book illus­trat­ed by Roy Lichtenstein’s paint­ings, Roy’s House, which lets us see up close his style of art, the col­ors he used, and the tech­nique of shad­ing col­or in dots.… more
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This is NOT a Cat!

August Shorts

Warn­ing: There’s a lot of enthu­si­asm ahead for these books! Where Do Pants Go?
Writ­ten by Rebec­ca Van Slyke, illus­trat­ed by Chris Robertson
Ster­ling Children’s Books, 2016 Well, this is just adorable … and I can already hear house­holds through­out the Eng­lish-speak­ing world chanting: Where do pants go? On your arms? No. On your neck? No. No, no, no. Pants go on your legs, that’s where pants go.”… more
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Lives of the Scientists

Books Like This Are Convincing

I’m more com­fort­able with mag­ic than I am with sci­ence. Mar­ried to a sci­ence guy, I work hard­er to be inter­est­ed in sci­ence. It gives us some­thing to talk about. When I find nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion that tells a com­pelling sto­ry, I’m thank­ful … and intrigued. I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly hap­py to find books that fea­ture less­er-known aspects of sci­ence, there­by taunt­ing my curiosity.… more
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Book by Book

Dear Peacemakers

In recent weeks, we’ve had many requests for books about anger and fear and con­flict resolution. I was imme­di­ate­ly remind­ed of an excel­lent resource pub­lished in 2010 called Book by Book: an Anno­tat­ed Guide to Young People’s Lit­er­a­ture with Peace­mak­ing and Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion Themes (Car­ol Spiegel, pub­lished by Edu­ca­tors for Social Respon­si­bil­i­ty, now called Engag­ing Schools).… more
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Treasury for Young Readers

Reading Memories

Mem­o­ries of my child­hood are imper­fect. Yours, too? I don’t remem­ber hav­ing a lot of books as a child. I remem­ber The Poky Lit­tle Pup­py and anoth­er dog book (title unknown) and Three Lit­tle Kit­tens (per­haps a reminder to me to keep track of my mittens). I remem­ber using the school library vora­cious­ly to read books. I had no access to the pub­lic library (too far away) so that school library was my life­line.… more
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Vermont College of Fine Arts

Visiting Brigadoon

Steve and I returned ear­li­er this week from Mont­pe­lier, Ver­mont, where we spoke at the Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts, specif­i­cal­ly to the alum­ni of their Writ­ing for Chil­dren and Young Adults MFA pro­gram. We were there to talk about “Mar­ket­ing as Sto­ry­telling,” with the goal of mak­ing these typ­i­cal­ly intro­vert­ed writ­ers feel more com­fort­able about tout­ing their books.… more
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Mother-Daughter Book Club

Going to Camp

As sum­mer begins, it’s pos­si­ble there is no more ubiq­ui­tous expe­ri­ence for Amer­i­can chil­dren than sum­mer camp. Whether it’s a day camp or a sleep­away camp, an art or music camp, a Girl Scout or church camp, there are some things that most camps have in com­mon: the out­doors, get­ting along with oth­er kids and coun­selors, and new experiences.… more
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Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action

Summer Adventures

  The oth­er day, a pub­lic librar­i­an asked on social media for graph­ic nov­el rec­om­men­da­tions for read­ers aged 6 to 12. I imme­di­ate­ly rec­om­mend­ed the Adven­tures in Car­toon­ing series by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alex­is Frederick-Frost. The first book was Adven­tures in Car­toon­ing: How to Turn Your Doo­dles into Comics, intro­duc­ing us to The Knight, Edward the chub­by horse, and the Mag­ic Car­toon­ing Elf.… more
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The Dark is Rising

Light vs Dark

Do you have a book that you re-read peri­od­i­cal­ly? At least every few years? Some­times more often? For me, it’s The Dark is Ris­ing by Susan Coop­er. I have read thou­sands of books in my life­time, but this book stands out as the one that cap­tured my full heart, mind, and imag­i­na­tion. When I think of it, a hush falls over me.… more
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The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

The word exquis­ite once won the game for me while play­ing Pass­word. I have been fond of that word since that time and look for instances where it applies. That is sure­ly the illus­trat­ed edi­tion of The Jun­gle Book, writ­ten by Rud­yard Kipling all of those years ago, and new­ly illus­trat­ed by Nico­la Bay­ley. Can­dlewick pub­lished this edi­tion of the clas­sic sto­ries and their clas­sics are worth col­lect­ing, read­ing, and trea­sur­ing.… more
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Fashion Studio

Fashion Studio

Oh. my good­ness. When I opened up this box, I was imme­di­ate­ly trans­port­ed to my grand­par­ents’ back yard, on the blue blan­ket under the elm tree, when a gag­gle of friends brought their Bar­bi­es and Kens togeth­er and we sewed clothes out of fab­ric scraps and held fash­ion shows. Those days are some of my best mem­o­ries of childhood.… more
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Pippi Longstocking

Perspective

At Bookol­o­gy, we believe the adage about “the right book for the right read­er.” Those are not nec­es­sar­i­ly the books that we see in adver­tise­ments, in the blog­gers’ buzz, or on award lists. Only by lis­ten­ing to each oth­er, and espe­cial­ly to kids, talk about books do we find those gems our hearts were look­ing for but didn’t know existed.… more
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Books in a Box

Libraries in the USA are at Mission Critical

There is not such a cra­dle of democ­ra­cy upon the earth as the Free Pub­lic Library, this repub­lic of let­ters, where nei­ther rank, office, nor wealth receives the slight­est con­sid­er­a­tion.” —Andrew Carnegie Libraries in the USA are at mis­sion crit­i­cal. Those who went before us worked hard to estab­lish free pub­lic libraries so we could have access to what we need to know.… more
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Space Dumplins

Telling a Story the Hard Way

by Vic­ki Palmquist I’ve just fin­ished read­ing the graph­ic nov­el Space Dumplins by Craig Thomp­son, with col­or by Dave Stew­art (Graphix, 2015). I am over­whelmed by the work that went into this book. First off, it’s an engross­ing, turn-the-page sto­ry with an appeal­ing cast of char­ac­ters. As read­ers, we care about what will hap­pen. That’s a good start.… more
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Reading Ahead bubble

Rolling the Storytelling Blocks

by Vic­ki Palmquist Look­ing for hours of fun with a book the whole fam­i­ly can enjoy … or one per­son can eas­i­ly study to learn to write or tell a sto­ry … bet­ter? Then you’ll want to give this a try: How to Tell a Sto­ry, writ­ten by Daniel Nay­eri, illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Won, and pub­lished by Work­man Pub­lish­ing in 2015. This book comes in a box.… more
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Reading Ahead bubble

Looking inside

by Vic­ki Palmquist For sev­er­al years, I have been dip­ping into a book that I keep beside my desk. It’s called Today I Will: a Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promis­es to Myself (Knopf, 2009). Two acknowl­edged mas­ters of children’s lit­er­a­ture, Eileen Spinel­li and Jer­ry Spinel­li, wrote it. They are par­ents and grand­par­ents and one can feel their love and con­cern for future gen­er­a­tions in this book.… more
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Reading Ahead bubble

Don’t get took! Read a book!”

by Vic­ki Palmquist I go crazy when I hear that Vaun­da Michaux Nel­son has anoth­er book com­ing out. I’m a fan. For my own read­ing life, No Crys­tal Stair: a doc­u­men­tary nov­el of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem book­seller, is one of my top ten books in the last ten years. I found every aspect of that book sat­is­fy­ing.… more
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Welcome to New Zealand

Collecting your observations

by Vic­ki Palmquist I nev­er kept a jour­nal. Why? It nev­er occurred to me. It wasn’t with­in my realm of famil­iar­i­ty. I start­ed writ­ing many sto­ries on note­book paper and stuffed them into fold­ers. But how sat­is­fy­ing to have a jour­nal, specif­i­cal­ly an obser­va­tion jour­nal to keep track of what you see, hear, and think. As a child, I was a hunter-gath­er­er. Were you?… more
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Reading Ahead bubble

Is It a Classic?

by Vic­ki Palmquist When I was in my twen­ties, I worked at an archi­tec­ture firm. Sev­er­al of the archi­tects were fas­ci­nat­ed by my deep con­nec­tion to children’s books. One day, one of them asked me, “Which books, being pub­lished now, will become clas­sics?” That ques­tion has stuck with me, hold­ing up a sign­post every now and then. How does one pre­dict a classic?… more
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Historium

Museum Feast

His­to­ri­um
curat­ed by Richard Wilkin­son and Jo Nel­son
Big Pic­ture Press, 2015 by Vic­ki Palmquist In a large, folio-sized book, the cura­tors of His­to­ri­um present a print­ed-page trip through a muse­um, grouped by cul­tures and described in detail so you can under­stand what you are see­ing with­out being rushed along by the crowd. Much like those rentable muse­um audio tapes or the plac­ards on the wall, it’s an enhanced expe­ri­ence of the arti­facts.… more
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Reading Ahead bubble

Laughter and Grief

by Vic­ki Palmquist There are books we remem­ber all of our lives, even if we can’t remem­ber the details. Some­times we can’t even remem­ber the sto­ry, but we remem­ber the char­ac­ters and how they made us feel. We recall being trans­port­ed into the pages of the book, see­ing what the char­ac­ters see, hear­ing what they hear, and under­stand­ing the time and spaces and breath­ing in and out of the char­ac­ters.… more
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Folk Tale Classics Treasury Galdone

The Classics, Galdone-Style

by Vic­ki Palmquist Are you look­ing for a show­er or baby gift that will be appre­ci­at­ed for a long time? A good birth­day present for a young child? The Folk Tale Clas­sics Trea­sury, inter­pret­ed and illus­trat­ed by Paul Gal­done (HMH Books for Young Read­ers, 2013), is a good place for par­ents to start with retellings of west­ern Euro­pean folk tales.… more
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