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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | Reading Ahead

“I’m not ready for school!”

Dad's First DayI minored in theatre in college, where I crossed the street from Augsburg to attend Arthur Ballet‘s legendary history of theatre class at the University of Minnesota.

Lessons learned in that class came rushing back as I savored Mike Wohnoutka‘s Dad’s First Day because it struck me how well this book would play as theatre of the absurd.

Mike is a keen observer of behavior, knowing what will delight kids … and their parents. Turning that first day of school on its ear, showing that, truthfully, parents are just as worried as the child is, provides good fun, discussable emotions, and a natural lead-in to conversations.

The dad’s behavior is drawn in friendly, realistically comic style with a varied palette of gouache paint. His reactions are absurd. Kids will recognize that and whoop with acknowledgment. Dad is endearing and so is the little boy who nonchalantly, even displaying confidence, can’t wait to experience his first day at school. 

Word choices make this a good read-aloud while the illustrations make this a good side-by-side book. And you must find the references to three of Mike’s previous books in the illustrations. I found six … can you find more?

Highly recommended for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and preschool educators.

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Epic felt

Three small board books … encompassing the first three Star Wars movies and a year-long craft project.

Star Wars Epic Felt

As I read each book, all 12 words, one word and one photo on each two-page spread, it slowly dawned on me just how ingenious they are.

In those 12 carefully chosen words and scenes from the movie, Jack and Holman Wang, twin brothers and admirable artistes, manage to evoke the entire saga of the first three movies. As a Star Wars-loving parent , grandparent (yes, the first fans are old enough to be reading to their grandchildren), aunt or uncle, this is a clever way to communicate across generations, to bring your wee ones into the universe of the Skywalkers.

Each word in the books gives readers an opportunity to talk about ideas such as snow, friend, kiss, father … all of the truly big concepts in a young person’s life … and how they weave into the Star Wars saga.

If we still had bards, they would be regaling us with the epic tales of Tatooine and Aldebaran, the Jedi, and the Force. These books are an unparalleled way to encourage storytelling of tales that are surely as familiar to modern bards as Beowulf or Gilgamesh were to audiences of old.

Star Wars Epic Felt

For further astonishment, each photo on the page opposite those words is as heartfelt and concise in storytelling as are the words. Made by needle felting, consider as well the scale modeling of the characters’ surroundings and the excellent photography. This is artistic skill at its finest.

Jack Wang is an associate professor teaching creative writing at Ithaca College. Holman Wang left the life of a middle school teacher and corporate lawyer to focus fulltime on creating children’s books. The boys grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. Today, they live on opposite coasts, Jack in Ithaca, New York, and Holman in Vancouver. Their website is a must-visit.

In their own words, here’s how the books are made: “The primary technique for making the figures in Star Wars Epic Yarns is needle felting, which is essentially sculpting with wool. This is a painstaking process which involves stabbing loose wool thousands of times with a specialized barbed needle. This entangles the wool fibers, making the wool firmer and firmer. It took us nearly a year to create all the Star Wars figures and spaceships in wool, build all the scale-model sets, and do all the in-studio or on location photography. We even flew to California and Arizona to find real desert to recreate the scenes on Tatooine! As lifelong Star Wars fans, it was important to us to get the books just right. Think of Star Wars Epic Yarns as the ultimate, year-long craft project! It was definitely a labor of love.”

Highly recommended.

Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope
Jack Wang and Holman Wang
Chronicle Books, 2015

Be sure to look for their other classic books, Cozy Classics from Simply Read Books, a couple of which are pictured here.

Cozy Creations

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Outer Space Ambassador

alarm clockby Vicki Palmquist

Every once in a while I come across a book that wakes up that breathless, eager, sense-of-wonder-at-everything-new feeling I had about reading as a child. I admit it, after 3,000 or so books the plots and characters and resolutions can feel similar to something I’ve read before.

Well, I joyfully read a book that hit all the right notes and transported me back to a bedtime reading experience where I couldn’t turn off the light, fell asleep, and then woke up in the morning to finish the book before my feet hit the floor.

AmbassadorAmbassador by William Alexander is just that good.

I’ve enjoyed science fiction since my sixth grade teacher read aloud A Wrinkle in Time. Our entire classroom tried hard to tesseract. Thank you, Mr. Rausch! Then our librarian helped me find Eleanor Cameron’s Mushroom Planet books. There wasn’t much else in that genre for a sixth grade reader so I moved on to fantasy … but today’s readers have a wider variety of choices.

Will Alexander does what all good heroic journey authors do. He starts us in a comfortable, right-at-home setting and then takes us to places unimaginable. Gabriel Sandro Fuentes, who recently got into trouble for letting his friend Frankie set off a rocket, is selected to be the next Ambassador from Earth to The Embassy, where sentient beings from all over the universe gather for diplomacy. When the Envoy arrives, he tells Gabriel of his new responsibility. He should also give Gabe pointers on how to travel through his dreams to reach the Embassy and what to do when he gets there. But someone is trying to kill Gabe and the Envoy is busy defending him … by creating a black hole in the Fuentes’ dryer. A small one.

Alexander plants clues throughout the book. When Gabe and Frankie argue over who has more power, Zorro or Batman, the author is neatly setting up the theme in the book. I especially loved Gabe’s fascinating, intrepid, multi-talented, and present parents … up until Gabe’s father faces deportation. Alexander’s fresh descriptions, perceptions, and actions keep the reader upright, expectant, slightly nervous, and looking forward to turning the page.

This is the perfect book for most readers whether they have experienced science fiction or not. It’s first and foremost a rocket-fueled story with intrigue, humor, and a very likeable hero. Read it!

 

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When a Prince Needs a Mechanic

by Vicki Palmquist

Interstellar CinderellaWith a deft story and otherworldly art, Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt bring us Interstellar Cinderella, a fresh and welcome take on the familiar fairy tale with a bit of Androcles and the Lion and The Jetsons thrown into the mix.

In this version, Cinderella loves fixing anything mechanical. She has her own set of special tools, all carefully drawn and named on the endpapers for the kids who love identifying things. Her companion is a robot mouse, small and seemingly insignificant but he saves the day when the wicked stepmother tries to keep the Prince from seeing Cinderella.

The illustrator used “gouache, brush and ink, graphite, rubylith, and digital process” to create a world that is readily identifiable as being set in the future, with touches of Arabian Nights and supercool spaceships, which Cinderella dreams of fixing when they break down.

When her fairy godrobot (don’t you think she’s a nod to Rosie on The Jetsons?) gives her a brand new spacesuit and a power gem to join the Prince’s Royal Space Parade, the Prince’s spaceship springs a leak and Cinderella is there to fix it.

I took a “Powderpuff Mechanics” class when I was in college (I didn’t name the class, folks), and I was mighty proud to be able to work on my own car. I know the thrill of fixing a leak and figuring out how to get better performance out of an engine, so Cinderella is my kind of gal.

I’m especially fond of the way this book ends. No spoilers here. Let’s just say that this isn’t your grandmother’s Cinderella story. In a rhyming picture book, the author creates a heroine who is talented and wise. The book sparkles and crackles with the power of the stars. Highly recommended.

Interstellar Cinderella, written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt, Chronicle Books, 2015

 

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We Didn’t Always Know the Way

by Vicki Palmquist

How to Read a StoryA step-by-step, slightly tongue-in-cheek but mostly sincere, guide to reading a book, How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel (Chronicle Books), will have you and your young readers feeling all warm and cozy and smart.

With advice in Step 2 to Find a Reading Buddy, we are cautioned “And make sure you both like the book.” That makes perfect sense. Reading buddies, as drawn in a colorful palette by illustrator and cartoonist Mark Siegel, can be older, younger, “or maybe not a person at all.” Perhaps a blue dog will wish to read with you.

In Step 6, the suggestion is to read the dialogue by saying it “in a voice to match who’s talking.” The ink-and-watercolor illustrations take up the narrative, giving us irresistible words with which to practice, a lion, a mouse who says “I am the most POWERFUL in all the land!” and a robot who merely says “Beep.” It’s excellent practice for interpreting pictures and putting meaning into the words.

We’re invited to try our minds at prediction in Step 8, as our reader and his reading buddy, the blue dog, contemplate what will happen next.

It’s a book that will make you smile, a good match between well-chosen words and playful illustrations, yet it’s a useful book for home and school and story hour. How can children learn the way to read out loud? How to Read a Story will have them trying before you know it.

 

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That’s Some Egg

by Vicki Palmquist

Under the EggIn Under the Egg, Theodora Tenpenny begins her story when her beloved grandfather, Jack, is hit by a taxi … and dies. Outside their 200-year-old Manhattan townhome, Jack whispers to Theo to “look under the egg.” Dealing with her grief, but desperate because she and her head-in-the-clouds mother have no income, Theo tries to figure out what her grandfather meant. She’s fairly certain he’s trying to provide for them, but did he have to be so mysterious?

What unravels is a tense mystery of art “theft,” Jack’s soldiering in World War II, suspicious adults who become altogether too interested, and a new best friend, Bodhi, who aids and abets Theo’s harebrained, but ultimately brilliant, schemes.

Under the Egg is a fast-paced, intelligent, learning-about-art-history while saving the world sort of book, not unlike Indiana Jones or Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. I stayed up all night to read it, unable to rest until the mystery was solved.

On Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s website, there are wonderful resources. When I finished Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, the first thing I did was find a painting of The Lord’s Supper to see if he was right. Fitzgerald saves us the hunt. There’s a map of all the places Theo visits in New York City. There’s more about Raphael, with thoughtfully provided paintings that link to fascinating stories from the painter’s life. There’s a page devoted to separating fact from fiction. And more.

Readers who love adventurous romps, who like to puzzle through a mystery, or enjoy visiting art museums will adore this book.

 

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Hands-on History for Spatial Learners

Making HistoryWhen I was in elementary school, I was never more excited than when the teacher told us we could make a diorama or a miniature scene of a pioneer settlement. The concept, planning, and building were thrilling for me. Even though my finished work seldom approached the dazzling display I could see in my head, I learned a great deal about history, engineering, science, and cardboard from my forays into building a small world in three dimensions.

We know that some kids learn best this way. They are not only hands-on, but they are spatial and visual learners, people who learn best by seeing and doing.

If you know children like this, they’ll be delighted with Making History: Have a Blast with 15 Crafts (written by Wendy Freshman and Kristin Jansson), published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

With a short historical lesson, thorough supplies list, excellent photographs, and step-by-step instructions that include a call-out for adult involvement (using scissors or a hot glue gun) your favorite kids can make a Makak Generation Basket or an Ice House (model) or a Día de Los Muertos Nichos (a small shadowbox with skeletons depicted on them for the Day honoring the Dead).

metal repousse pendant

Introducing a Metal Foil Repoussé Pendant, the authors share that Alice and Florence LeDuc formed Hastings Needlework in 1888 to create and sell embroidered household items that were treasured by many as artwork. Bought by influential families and featured on magazine covers, their needlework was known worldwide. The Minnesota Historical Society has more than 800 of their patterns in its archives.

With metal foil, a foam sheet, and household supplies such as a pencil, pen, and scissors, your students can make a necklace or box ornament from a Hastings Needlework pattern, included in the book and thoughtfully supplied online.

Paul Bunyan Action FigureFor your visual and spatial learners, building a Twister Tornado (did you know that the Mayo Clinic was founded as the result of a tornado?) or a Paul Bunyan Action Figure is a sneaky but effective way to make learning memorable and engaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading Ahead: Levitate Your Brother!

Big Magic for Little Hands

by Vicki Palmquist

We recently hosted a Harry Potter party for adults for which everyone was asked to perform a magic trick. Some people fiercely addressed the challenge. Some people panicked. Some people bought a trick off the internet. I turned to Joshua Jay’s Big Magic for Little Hands (Workman Publishing Co).

Citing all the benefits of learning to perform magic, the author reveals that he wasn’t a reader until he needed to know about magic. Learning magic tricks and performing them gives a child confidence and helps with public speaking skills. “Others have integrated magic into their jobs, using effects to break the ice or complete a sale or relax a jury.”

There are diagrams and terminology and suggested stage setups. There are helpful hints (overcoming stage fright). There are lists of materials needed for each feat of prestidigitation.

With compelling black, white, and red illustrations, the diagrams are easy to follow, convincing even the most skeptical that they could make these tricks work.

The writing is not just step-by-step instructional–Jay writes with humor and an appreciation of what’s practical.

The materials are items you probably have on hand in your household. When one list includes a top hat, Jay writes “A top hat works great, but you could also decorate an empty tissue box and use that, or use your dad’s cowboy hat. (Note: This only works if your dad is a cowboy.)”

Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed the real-life stories of magic such as “Houdini’s Great Plane Escape.” When Houdini was filming the movie The Grim Game, a stunt required climbing by rope from one plane to the other. During the stunt, the two planes collided and crashed to the ground. What happened? Well, that would be telling. According to Jay, a good magician never shares a secret or tells how it is done. Big Magic for Little Hands will tell you but I won’t.

Highly recommended for kids aged 8 and older (and the adults in their lives who will be just as fascinated). It’s a large format book with a big heart and plenty of fascination between its covers. A great gift. A good, readable, and hours-of-fun addition to your library.

 

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

There is a silly debate taking place about whether adults who read children’s books, including young adult books, are infantile and should have their driver’s licenses revoked because they’re obviously not mature enough to play dodge ‘em cars on the freeway and text while their two thousand pound vehicle hurtles down the road. Grown up, […]

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Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

Keystones of the Stone Arch Bridge

In downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, spanning the Mississippi River, there is a “Stone Arch Bridge” that resembles a roman viaduct with its 23 arches. Built at a time when Minneapolis was a primary grain-milling and wood-producing center for the United States, Empire Builder James J. Hill wanted the bridge built to help his railroad reach the […]

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Gravity

Gravity

What is gravity? I have a notion (after many years of school) that it keeps my feet touching the ground. When I jump into the air, I am defying gravity. What is Gravity? A book. Written and illustrated by Jason Chin, who previously gifted us with Redwoods and Coral Island and Galapagos. He has a […]

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Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

The woman who cuts my hair, Amy, had a particularly hard summer the year her boys had just learned to read. Their school asked that she keep them reading over the summer, but there were only so many Magic Treehouse books she wanted them to read. What other books would be suitable? The minutes flew […]

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I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

I Am Cow, Hear Me MOO!

There has been a lot written about the bravery of cows (no, there hasn’t). Some of it has startled us with the sheer audacity of amazing feats of derring-do of which cows are capable (News at 10!). Young children everywhere are pinning up cow posters on their bedroom walls, hoping to one day be as […]

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All Different Now

All Different Now

Do you know how sometimes your hands hover over a book, wanting to open it, sensing that this will be an important book, and you hesitate, wanting to prolong your interaction? I did that, turning All Different Now this way and that, then examining the title page, the jacket flaps … and finally allowing myself […]

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The Fourteenth Goldfish

The versatile Jennifer L. Holm pens a fantasy this time around, but it’s a story suffused with humor and science, deftly asking a mind-blowing question: is it a good thing to grow old? So what happens when a 13-year-old boy shows up on your doorstep, arguing with your mom, who invites him in, and it […]

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Planet Kindergarten

Planet Kindergarten

Books about getting ready for kindergarten and the first day in that Strange New Land are plentiful, but I can’t recall one that has drawn me into the experience as fully as Planet Kindergarten does. Every aspect of this book, from word choice to story to the detailed and clever drawings, puts this book at […]

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The Scraps Book

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life

Sometimes I want to walk right into the pages of a book, know everything the author knows, share their lifetime of experiences, and be able to emulate their creativity. Scraps: Notes from a Colorful Life makes me feel that way. I’ve even enjoyed the feeling and texture of the paper because I want in! For […]

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Return of Zita the Spacegirl

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

Ben Hatke can’t conceive of, write, and draw these stories fast enough for me—and a host of other fans. Just released, this book follows Zita the Spacegirl (2010) and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (2012). Doing the math, I know I won’t be reading the next installment until 2016. Whahhh. I’ve read so many stories […]

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My New Hero

I am a fan of superhero comics. After reading about talking ducks, precocious teens at Riverdale High, and an equally precocious rich kid, I wanted something with a real story, not a situation. I wasn’t allowed to buy comic books, so I had to rely on the kindness of cousins. Whatever I could scrounge up […]

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Space Taxi

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer, illus by Elise Gravel Little, Brown Books for Young Readers What a hoot! When eight-year-old Archie Morningstar gets up early in the morning for his first Take Your Kid to Work Day, he never imagines that his taxi-driving dad in their rickety cab is actually […]

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The Crossover

The Crossover Kwame Alexander Houghton Mifflin Harcourt From the moment I began reading this poetry collection, I knew it was a different type of book because the rhythms, the cadence, were infused with energy and awareness. The Crossover is primarily free verse, with a few hiphop, rhythmic poems that change up the action. The narrator, […]

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A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance Padma Venkatraman Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Putnam Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Padma Venkatraman’s books. Each one has charmed me. I know I can always expect a reading experience unlike any I’ve had before. Her new book does not disappoint. In A Time to Dance, teenaged Veda has already dedicated […]

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Gifted: Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

Anita Silvey writes, among other things, books that help us find good books. And not only does she help us find more books that we or our children or our students will enjoy, but she tells us the story behind those books. Oh, what fun it is to know that Charles Dickens had to publish […]

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Gifted: Up All Night

My mother had the knack of giving me a book every Christmas that kept me up all night … after I had opened it on Christmas Eve. I particularly remember the “oh-boy-it’s-dark-outside” year that I received The Lord of the Rings and accompanied the hobbits into Woody End where they first meet the Nazgul, the […]

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Gifted: So, You Want to Be a Chef?

So, You Want to Be a Chef? How to Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts Be What You Want series J.M. Bedell Beyond Words/Aladdin, October 2013 Introduction If your child or teen is often caught watching cooking shows, they’re not alone. In 2010, Melissa Kossler Dutton on ParentDish.com wrote, “Every month, 12 million […]

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Gifted: The Matchbox Diary

When a young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time, her imagination swirls with everything she sees in his antique shop. He asks her to pick out her favorite item and he will tell her a story about it. She chooses a cigar box filled with match boxes. As it turns out, this is […]

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Gifted: Under the North Light

Under the North Light The Life and Times of Maud and Miska Petersham written by Lawrence Webster foreword by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead Woodstock Arts, 2012 info@woodstockarts.com ISBN 978-0-9679268-6-5 My husband, Steve, and I have worked together for the last 25 years. We have been married for 32 years, so it took […]

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Gifted: Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin afterword by Will Allen Readers to Eaters, 2013 Introduction My second passion in life after books and reading is sustainable agriculture and organic farming. There are a few good books for children on this topic, but I’m always delighted […]

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Books Plus: The Goods by McSweeney’s

The Goods by McSweeney’s: Games and Activities for Big Kids, Little Kids, and Medium-Size Kids edited by Mac Barnett and Brian McMullen featuring Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, and more Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2013 For your holiday gift-giving consideration … An oversized book filled with every imaginable distraction, this should be […]

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Gifted: Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs for Thanksgiving edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson illustrations by Pamela Dalton Handprint Books / Chronicle Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-4521-1339-5 The season when we focus on giving thanks will quickly be here. If you are looking for a gift to take to your hosts, to give to […]

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Gifted: Walk This World

Walk This World: a Celebration of Life in a Day Lotta Nieminen, a Finnish-born graphic designer and art director Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, November 2013 As you consider gifts for this holiday season, we suggest … (book #2 in our Gifted recommendations) … Visit 10 countries in one book! This stylish […]

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Gifted: Spike, Ugliest Dog in the Universe

Spike, Ugliest Dog in the Universe Debra Frasier, author and illustrator Beach Lane Books, October 2013 Ever since I saw my 10-year-old niece pose in front of the television, trying to imitate the supermodels at the end of the runway, my awareness of the beauty culture in this country has been acute. We took her […]

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Gifted: Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure!

Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventures! written and illustrated by David LaRochelle Sterling Children’s Publishing, 2013 If you’re considering gifts for the holiday season … (book #1 in our series of Gifted recommendations) … No matter how uninteresting Arlo’s elderly relative insists on making their trip to the museum with her warnings to be serious and quiet and […]

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Anatomy of a Series: Topps League Books

We’re in post-season, when a lot of fans start to look wild-eyed, wondering how they’ll hang on for three months until spring training starts in February. Here in Minnesota, it’s tough for sandlot baseball or Little League games to be played in the snow with an icy baseline. Young fans can keep up the momentum […]

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Discussing the Books We’ve Loved: Déjà Vu

As I ready this article for publication, I am sitting in the coffee shop where I first met Heather Vogel Frederick, now a much-admired author of some of my favorite books. I still enjoy getting caught up in a series, accepting the likeable and not-so-likeable characters as my new-found circle of friends, anticipating the treat […]

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Alongside the Books We’ve Loved: Venom and the River

This week, join me as we continue to look at books that orbit the constellations of children’s series books much-loved by adults: Louisa May Alcott’s books, the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables books, and Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books. A brand new novel, Venom on the River, is now available from my favorite […]

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Behind the Books We’ve Loved: A Wilder Rose

Growing up, I loved to read mysteries, biographies, but especially series books. I didn’t read Nancy Drew or Anne of Green Gables (not until I was an adult), but I followed most every other series character. I read Cherry Ames, Sue Barton, Trixie Belden, Beany Malone, Janet Lennon, but especially Louisa May Alcott’s books, the […]

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Packing up the tent?

Summer Reading No. 2 Many of you are making plans to get out of Dodge when your kids are out of school for the summer. I imagine thousands of people making a list: tent, sleeping bags, mini-grill, rain ponchos, clothesline (from our camping experience, someplace to hang things up to dry is essential), cooler, GPS, […]

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Best Truck Stop Ever

Summer Reading No. 1 Travel season begins now. Resorts and roadside attractions and Dairy Queens are all spruced up. The OPEN signs are once again flipped to the side that matters. Will you be traveling the highways and backroads, looking for adventure? I’ve read a new picture book that made me look differently at something […]

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… who taught me to love books

I’ve just begun reading Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. Many people have recommended it to me, aghast that I have not already eaten it up. I’ve gotten as far as the dedication: For my parents—Vivian Taylor Turnage and A.C. Turnage, Jr.—who taught me to love books. What a gift. How big-hearted and understanding of […]

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No book to print book to e-book to …

Publishers Weekly reported today that Neil Gaiman addressed the fifth London Book Fair Digital Minds Conference by saying, “People ask me what my predictions are for publishing and how digital is changing things and I tell them my only real prediction is that is it’s all changing,” Gaiman said. “Amazon, Google and all of those […]

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Cooking up a bookstorm

One of my favorite genres of reading is cookbooks. It all began when I was ten, the Christmas of 1963. My mother gave me Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, originally published in 1957 by Golden Books, illustrated by Gloria Kamen, and written by, well, Betty Crocker, of course! A lot of cooking […]

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Chapter & Verse picks the winners … or not

In CLN’s Chapter & Verse, with six of our bookstores reporting, we had no clear winners for our mock Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Awards. Steve and I have visited many of these locations, talking with the book club members. Each book club has its own character. The members bring different life experiences, different reading preferences, […]

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Boy Reading

Doing it Yourself

In the ten years that CLN has existed, one of our greatest challenges has been self-published books. Do we include them or don’t we? The rules of publishing are changing in seismic ways. We’re watching the shifting trends. CLN believes in presenting books that can fit the credo “the right book at the right time […]

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When Thunder Comes

Just in time for the Martin Luther King remembrance on Monday, J. Patrick Lewis has a challenging new poetry book, When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders. The title captured my attention and held me: Mr. Lewis is including me as a civil rights leader. Each of us. All of us. By including his readers, […]

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A matter of character

I enjoy so many types of books, marveling that a writer or comic artist or architect or journalist or cook or explorer thought long and studied hard and wrote and revised and gave countless hours to the creation of their book. After all, how do you count the hours a book’s author spends dreaming, observing, […]

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A stellar book of fiction or nonfiction?

Nonfiction is getting a rocket lift-off into the consciousness of educators … and publishers … throughout the United States. Why? The Common Core State Standards require that nonfiction text is included in the classroom. I, of course, am cheering over this. I haven’t put the list of books I’ve read on a scale, nonfiction on […]

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Fan Fervor for 70-Year-Old Books

Yesterday we attended the Betsy-Tacy Convention presentations at the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota, a/k/a the Kerlan Collection. There was SRO in a room that was set up for about 150 people (best guess). Kathleen Baxter was the host of the soirée, enthusiastically welcoming everyone to this meaningful setting for the […]

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Peace

Peace is elusive. It is a goal of some people at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people sharing all the world …” Is […]

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An Artful Storyteller

In person, Gary D. Schmidt is a storyteller. Sometimes that’s an internal aspect of an author and it doesn’t extend to conversation or presentations. Gary shared a story at Spotlight on Books that came from his growing-up neighborhood on Long Island, NY. He engaged his listeners by giving them the responsibility for preserving the story, […]

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