Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vacation


I'm on vacation this week - escaping the cold.

Until I get back, perhaps you'll enjoy my recent reviews for AudioFile Magazine:


Monday, February 1, 2016

Thoughts on Last Stop on Market Street

In 2008, librarians surprised everyone by choosing the 533-page, The Invention of Hugo Cabret as the winner of the Caldecott Medal honoring the "most distinguished American picture book for children."  This year, the award committees surprised us again with the choice of a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, as the winner of the Newbery Medal, given to "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." 

The short video below featuring author, Matt de la Peña, reading from his book will convince you that this is a wonderful book. 
My concern as a public librarian, however, is how best to share this book with kids.  The book is a little lengthy for my usual storytime crowd, and school-aged kids can seldom be convinced to check out a picture book.  It's in instances like these, that I envy school teachers and media specialists, who have such a wonderful opportunity to share great books with large numbers of kids.  This is perfect book for reading aloud in school.

But, how to share it in a public library setting?

Last week, I had a last-minute inspiration and it was a rewarding experience.  I have a small book club that meets every month. This month, I asked each of the kids to read Last Stop on Market Street - right then. In addition to positive comments about the book, I loved two of the observations that they reported:
  1. I never would have chosen this book if you didn't hand it to me.
  2. The people at the soup kitchen look like regular people.
We then discussed public transportation (none of the kids had ever been on a bus) and soup kitchens (none had ever been to one).  Working in a suburban library with poor public transportation, I can understand this. However, as a suburban parent, I can tell you that I made sure that my own children volunteered at the local food pantry and experienced public transportation (I made all of them ride the public bus with me to the mall even though it was more expensive than driving my minivan and took twice as long).  As a suburban librarian, I can't take kids on the public bus or to the soup kitchen, but at minimum, I've ensured that a few more children are now aware of the lives that others lead.This is one of the many things that makes my job worthwhile.

One of the missions of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks (TM) campaign is to make sure that "all children can see themselves in the pages of a book."  This is important, but also important is recognizing that all people are just "regular people."  We always have more in common than we think.


Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Read it. Share it.

**Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
**A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
**A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller
Four Starred Reviews
Finalist for the 2014 E.B. White Read-aloud Book Award
A Junior Library Guild Selection

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sydney Taylor Awards and more

 As the motion picture industry has multiple awards including the Academy, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globe, so too, does the publishing industry. In books for young people, the best known are the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, which were awarded this month, and I wrote about earlier. ( See the complete list of winners here: [http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2016/01/american-library-association-announces-2016-youth-media-award-winners])


There are however, numerous other awards including (but not limited to) the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Cybils Awards (chosen by bloggers and for which I have twice been a judge), The Schneider Family Book Award (which recognizes excellence in portraying the disability experience), the Coretta Scott King Awards (recognizing books by African Americans that reflect the African American experience), and the Pura Belpré Awards (honoring books that celebrate the Latino cultural experience). 

Also recently awarded were the Sydney Taylor Book Awards for children and teens.  These awards are given to books that "authentically portray the Jewish experience."  You can read the official press release here: [http://jewishlibraries.org/blog.php?id=315]   

Many schoolchildren are introduced to the Jewish experience only through Holocaust education.  The Sydney Taylor Awards recognize all aspects of Jewish culture.

The Association of Jewish Libraries asked for my assistance in promoting this year's winners, and I am happy to do so.  A complete list of winners and honor books is below. 

 If you haven't read any of the winners of these or other awards celebrating the many facets of our diverse world, consider adding several to your TBR pile.


The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers: 
  •  Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey M. Green with illustrations by Philippe Dumas (Seven Stories Press)
 The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:
Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Younger Readers:
  • Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman with illustrations by Talitha Shipman (Random House) Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Jing Jing Tsong (Kar-Ben Publishing)
 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers:
 Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Teen Readers:
  • Serendipity’s Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House) Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer (Orca Book Publishers) 

Note:
Keep watch for the 2015 Cybils Awards winners.  They will be announced on Valentine's Day, February 14th. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dead Boy - an audiobook review



Below is my review of the audio book version of Dead Boy by Lauren Gale and read by Robbie Daymond.  Great plot with some unexpected turns.
GALE, Laurel. Dead Boy. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $35. ISBN 9781101916827. digital download.

Gr 5-7–Crow was once a regular boy who played baseball and had friends and loving parents. But now, he’s dead. At first, being dead wasn’t so bad, but then his rotting flesh began attracting maggots. He couldn’t eat or sleep. His parents divorced. His mother will tell him only that his parents “wished him back to life,” but what kind of life? He’s trapped in a house kept purposefully cold to slow the putrefaction of his flesh. When Melody and her father move in next door, she and Crow become secret friends against the wishes of their parents. Together, they begin to unravel the terrible secret of his parents’ wish. Their forbidden friendship will be tested as they face a series of deadly challenges in their quest for the truth. Though the book’s description promises humor, narrator Robbie Daymond’s presentation of Crow is morose and forlorn. His cheerful portrayal of Melody offers the only break from the macabre atmosphere. VERDICT - Not for the squeamish, this one will be best for middle school fans of ghoulish favorites like The Night Gardener (Abrams, 2014) or The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (S. & S., 2012). [“A great recommendation to middle grade fans of dark humor”: SLJ 7/15 review of the Crown book.]

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