Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

Kids of all ages (and adults) are fascinated with dinosaurs! That’s why I was so excited to see a new book of children’s poetry by David Elliott. In the Past is a large format picture book with a short dinosaur poem on each double-page spread; it’s perfect for sharing in one sitting or for reading in small bits.

In the Past by David Elliott

This latest book by Elliott only takes a slight turn from his previous books of poetry featuring animals in different habitats. Those of you who have attended our children’s programs in the past know that I love to share poems. It’s more than just a personal preference; there is firm research that shows poetry is a great way for kids to develop early literacy skills. Poems provide great examples of rhyme, rhythm and figurative language and also encourage us to look at the world around us in creative ways.

In the Sea by David Elliott    In the Wild by David Elliott

Pick up a David Elliott book to share with your family this April for National Poetry Month. For older readers, you might want to try Elliott’s book Bull, a novel written in verse that explores the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. You can find Bull in the teen area at the Aurora Public Library or on OverDrive.

On the Farm by David Elliott   Bull by David Elliott

Indiana Author April Pulley Sayre

South Bend resident April Pulley Sayre has turned a lifetime fascination with biology into an amazing career researching and writing non-fiction for children. Her latest release, Warbler Wave, is available at both Library locations and features Sayre’s stunning photographs of a variety of warblers. Did you know that warblers migrate thousands of miles each year? I didn’t know that – until I read Warbler Wave! Sayre also shows off her photographic skill in Best in Snow and Full of Fall, as well as 3 food based books photographed at her local farmer’s market.

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre   Go, Go, Grapes by April Pulley Sayre

Rah, Rah, Radishes by April Pulley Sayre   Let's Go Nuts by April Pulley Sayre

Sayre is also well-known for her other “Chant” books: Trout, Trout, Trout, Bird, Bird, Bird, and Ant, Ant, Ant.

Trout, Trout, Trout by April Pulley Sayre   Bird, Bird, Bird by April Pulley Sayre

Books by Sayre have been illustrated by some amazing illustrators, including the award-winning Steve Jenkins who uses cut paper collage. I have been a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books for many years and I love the work he did in Eat like a Bear , Woodpecker, Wham!, and Vulture View.

Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre   Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre

If your family is interested in learning more about animals or in studying how we relate to the world around us, you should definitely check out the Library’s books by April Pulley Sayre!

Splish, Splash, Animal Baths by April Pulley Sayre   Meet the Howlers by April Pulley Sayre

Here Come the Humpbacks by April Pulley Sayre   Dig Wait Listen: a Desert Toad's Tale by April Pulley Sayre

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre   Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! by April Pulley Sayre

 

 

Meet Illustrator Ed Young

Illustrator of more than 80 books for children, Ed Young is best known for his picture books based on folktales, and he takes inspiration for his work from the philosophy of Chinese painting where both words and artwork are essential elements.  Ed Young has twice been the U.S. nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and received the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po, a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Lon Po Po by Ed Young

In Seven Fathers, Young illustrates a traditional Norwegian folktale. The Emperor and the Kite is a Chinese folktale, retold by Jane Yolen, and Seven Blind Mice is a retelling of the folktale “The Blind Men and the Elephant” which appears in many Asian cultures.

Seven Fathers retold by Ashley Ramsden   The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Notice all the shiny medals on the book covers? For a list of Ed Young’s book awards, you can visit his web page. His books use a variety of art styles, but frequently include collage and cut paper.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein  Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa

Hook by Ed Young   Moon Bear by Brenda Guiberson

Beyond the Great Mountains by Ed Young  Mighty Moby by Ed Young

Mighty Moby is Young’s latest book and features an adorable surprise ending!

For anyone with an interest in art, folktales or Asian culture, these books are fascinating to explore.

 

 

Bedtime Storytime

Our always popular Bedtime Storytime will be coming soon! All ages are welcome to attend this event and advance registration is not needed. Just bring the whole family (in pajamas!) and cuddle up for some great stories. There will also be a craft and, of course, milk and cookies. If you’re not there, Peggy will be singing the blues and that is something you don’t want to happen!

The Bedtime Storytime will be held at the Dillsboro Public Library on Tuesday, January 30th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM and at the Aurora Public Library on Thursday, February 1st from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. See you soon!

Our weekly Storytimes for ages 3-6 will begin the following week on Tuesday, February 6th, at 10:30 AM (Dillsboro) and Wednesday, February 7th, at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM (Aurora). Please register your children in advance for these programs.

 

 

Pourquoi? Why?

Young children never stop asking, “Why?” For thousands of years, people in different cultures have also asked this. Why does the giraffe have a long neck? Why does the sun seem to move across the sky? Why are there lights in the northern sky? Stories were created to explain things in nature that could not be understood any other way. These stories offer us insight into the customs and resources that were important to cultures all over the world.

You can find these stories in collections of legends, in creation myths, and in many picture books. These are often called “Pourquoi” stories from the French word for “why.” Reading these tales is a wonderful way to take your family on a reading trip around the world. They are also a great jumping off point for informational books that tell the actual science behind these things.

We have a terrific collection of Pourquoi tales collected and retold by Margaret Mayo. With stories from Australia, Africa, Iceland, Central America and other places, When the World Was Young is a great sampler of the genre. Each story is 4-5 pages long with only a few pictures, so it works well for kids who have a decent attention span. I love the author’s note in the back that tells about the source of each story.

When the World was Young by Margaret Mayo

Many of our other Pourquoi books are in a picture book format and are great to share with even very young kids.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Blizzard's Robe by Robert Sabuda  Why the Sky is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson

Robert Sabuda has become world-renowned for his pop-up books, but the batik illustrations in The Blizzard’s Robe are stunning! Why the Sky is Far Away uses art in a Nigerian folk style to relate an important lesson about protecting our resources.

Tomie dePaola wrote three picture books telling the legends of wildflowers. These are all beautiful stories and can also be found in Tomie dePaola’s Big Book of Favorite Legends.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola  The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Gerald McDermott wrote a series of picture-book trickster tales. They are fun to read, because different cultures have developed groups of tales portraying certain animals as tricky or sly. These two books also serve as pourquoi tales, telling the origin of the sun and explaining why the tortoise’s shell looks cracked.

 

You may be familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. Kipling created these stories to tell to his daughter. Although they are not traditional folklore, they fit the mold of explaining the various characteristics of animals.

 

If you have ever wondered about strawberries or stars or chipmunks, we have a book for you!

 

If this type of folklore appeals to you, you can also look for pourquoi tales tucked into larger story collections such as Kwi-na the Eagle and Other Indian Tales and Cloud Weavers: Ancient Chinese Legends.

Read some of these books with your family and the next time your child asks “Why…”, challenge them to create a story explains the reason.

 

 

Cinderella Around the World

No, this is not a travelogue of Cinderella on a Grand Tour adventure! Instead, think of this as a way to explore other cultures through a certain type of story. Cinderella stories usually have these features in common: an evil stepmother and stepsisters, a father who fails to stop Cinderella’s mistreatment, a mutual attraction with a person of a higher social status, a ball or other community gathering, and a lost object. The Cinderella-type story has been traced back to Yeh Shen, the heroine of a ninth century Chinese tale.

Yeh Shen: a Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

Part of the fun of reading these stories comes from noticing the way the details vary based on the setting. Our print collection of books includes Cinderella stories from Egypt, Korea, Persia, Ireland, Africa and more. The main character is usually female, but there are exceptions such as The Irish CinderLad by Shirley Climo.

The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo   The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: an African Tale by John Steptoe   The Golden Sandal: a Middle Eastern Cinderella by Rebecca Hickox

Sootface: an Ojibwa Cinderella by Robert San Souci   The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo

I like to check in the back of the book or on the dust jacket to find out if the author is retelling a traditional tale. Authors have also written original Cinderella tales, placing the same plot elements in new cultures. For example, Robert San Souci wrote a Caribbean version and Alan Schroeder placed Cinderella in the middle of Appalachia.

Cendrillon by Robert San Souci     Smoky Mountain rose by Alan Schroeder

Those just begin to the scratch the surface! There are many Cinderellas that fall into the “fractured fairy-tale” category, featuring diverse casts of characters like cowgirls, penguins, or skeletons. Maybe you already have a favorite!

Cindy Ellen: a Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell   Cinderella Penguin, or the Little Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman

Chickerella by Mary Jane Auch   Cinderella Skeleton by Robert San Souci

If the Shoe Fits: Voices from Cinderella by Laura Whipple presents the familiar story from different perspectives in 33 poems. How can you resist a book like this? Haven’t you ever wondered what the glass slipper thought as so many maidens struggled to squeeze their feet into place?

If the Shoe Fits: Voices From Cinderella by Laura Whipple

Cinderella stories are not just for children! You can find similar stories for all ages up through adults. Just ask and we’ll find you one that is perfect for your reading tastes. You can find much more information online about Cinderellas stories, including on the American Library association website: http://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/resources/multicultural

 

 

Picture Books About Scientists

Children are naturally curious about the world around them! As parents, we always want to find ways to nurture that curiosity. We can provide them with a wide variety of learning activities, including lots of books that lead to more and more questions for us to explore with them. Here are some great picture books about famous scientists, paired with a related storybook.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamda relates the story of a young boy from Malawi who brought electricity to his village by building a windmill out of scraps. It would be a perfect book to share after a day of playing with Legos or blocks with your child. Dreaming Up pairs block play with famous buildings around the world in a celebration of creativity.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba   Dreaming Up by Christy Hale

Big Al by Andrew Clements is a story of friendship and will also introduce kids to fish that live around a coral reef. Follow the story up with Manfish by Jennifer Berne, a book about legendary marine scientist Jacques Cousteau.

Big Al by Andrew Clements   Manfish: The Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne

If you and your family enjoy watching birds at a feeder, these next two books are perfect for you! Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward explores all ways that birds build their homes. For the Birds shares the story of Roger Tory Peterson, the creator of many bird guidebooks.

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward   For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Peggy Thomas

Creativity is the name of the game in Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. When you’re through playing with boxes, read about a scientist who thought outside the box in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein, another biography by Jennifer Berne.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis   On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne

Trees are always interesting to kids, for playing under and around. Share A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, then read about The Tree Lady who changed San Diego from a desert town to a garden-filled oasis.

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry   The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins

These are all book pairs that work well with younger kids. The following picture book biographies are better suited for upper elementary students or older. There is a new research study that shows that teens who read about the struggles of famous scientists do better in their science classes, so keep the books coming and keep talking about the way that scientists persevere through many mistakes!

   Look Up! The Story of the First Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh  

  

What are “Easy Chapter Books”?

Did you know that the Library District has a special collection of books for kids who are just beginning to move from picture books to chapter books? These books have some important characteristics that make them ideal for that transition period. As your child begins to read longer books, these features will make it less stressful for both of you! If you don’t know where these book collections are kept at the Library, please ask!

  • The words are in a larger size font and lines of text are spaced further apart.
  • Paragraphs are kept very short – usually no more than about 3 short sentences.
  • Lots of white space on the pages.
  • Plenty of illustrations.

 

When children are learning to read, their eyes tire easily. All these features keep each page from seeming too overwhelming. Kids often have difficulty in making their eyes travel from the end of a line of text to the beginning of the next line, so the greater spacing is needed to make the transition easier. Also very short chapters provide convenient stopping places if your reading time is limited. Remember that reading is hard work at first, so you may want to take turns reading paragraphs or even pages. You want reading to be a fun experience, so let your children choose books that interest them.

Books in this format have been around for many years. Two classic series are the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel and the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarek.

Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel    Little Bear's Friend by Else Holmelund Minarek

Cynthia Rylant has written many easy chapter books. Her long-standing series include the Henry and Mudge books, the Poppleton books, and the Mr. Putter & Tabby books. Some of these have been around since the 1980’s, but I continue to recommend them to beginning readers, because I remember how much my own children loved them.

Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend by Cynthia Rylant  Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant  Mr. Putter & Tabby Take the Train b y Cynthia Rylant

Kevin Henkes (the Penny series) and Kate DiCamillo ( the Mercy Watson series) are both award-winning authors who write for multiple age groups. Dicamillo also writes the Tales From Deckaroo Drive beginning chapter books.

Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes   Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel began as a picture book, but Bruel has gone on to write many Bad Kitty books in an easy chapter book format. Another of our most popular series is The Notebook of Doom by Indiana author Troy Cummings. The Notebook of Doom series is also available through the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel   Attack of the Shadow Smashers by Troy Cummings

Keep reading aloud with your children even after they are able to read alone. Research shows that kids can comprehend stories they hear, even if the reading level is higher than that of books they can read for themselves. By continuing to read with your children, you’ll be helping them build vocabulary and comprehension skills. Just as importantly, you’ll be having fun together and will be forming shared experiences.

 

 

Christmas Books and Cookies

The sprinkles are ready! The new Christmas books are here! All we still need is for you to mark this event on your calendar. We’ll be kicking off the holiday season with the Library District’s annual Christmas Cookies and Books program on Saturday, December 2nd. This program will be available at both branches and is open to all ages, whether you have children or not!

Jingle Bells by Susan Jeffers  One Cozy Christmas by M. Christina Butler

At the Aurora Public Library, Peggy will be reading Christmas stories beginning at 10 a.m. and cookies will be available to decorate until 2 p.m. This is also the first weekend that Main Street Aurora will be offering the opportunity to have breakfast with Santa. Make sure to stop by the Library after you share a meal with the guy in the red suit!

Patty will be hosting at the Dillsboro Public Library with activities available between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Little Santa by Yoko Maruyama

 

Meet Author/Illustrator Peter Sis

A new book by a favorite author or illustrator is always cause for rejoicing. This time I am celebrating the publication of a new book by Peter Sis. Robinson, shown above, blends the story of Robinson Crusoe with a true adventure from Sis’s childhood and was described in Horn Book Magazine as a “visually stunning and empowering tale.” The large size of this picture book gives Sis plenty of space to showcase his distinctive artwork.

If you are not familiar with Peter Sis, it might be because his works are in several different areas in the Library. We have three of his books in the Easy collection and several books in our non-fiction collections. He has also provided illustrations for chapter books as well as books of poetry by Jack Prelutsky.

Madlenka by Peter Sis  Play, Mozart, Play by Peter Sis

Sis was born behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and requested asylum in the U.S. during a film-making trip. He wrote movingly about his early years in his illustrated autobiography The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain.

The Wall by Peter Sis

His work as an illustrator of chapter books includes the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson and several books by Sid Fleischman.

The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman   The Wind Singer by Wiliam Nicholson

In 2010, he illustrated The Dreamer, a fictionalized account of the life of poet Pablo Neruda, written by Pam Munoz Ryan. His illustrations are an integral part of this inspirational book and provide a magical touch to the story of a boy struggling to find the freedom to express his creativity.

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan & Peter Sis

Peter Sis has written and illustrated several picture book biographies including books about Columbus, Galileo and Darwin. Before Robinson, his most recent book was The Pilot and the Little Prince, based on the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery,  French pilot and writer of the children’s classic The Little Prince.

Starry Messenger by Peter Sis   The Tree of Life by Peter Sis

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Antoin de Saint-Exupery

In 2012, Peter Sis was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Book Award for his lasting contributions to children’s literature. He has one adult book to his credit, The Conference of the Birds. This 2011 book is an illustrated retelling of a classic poem by Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. The picture shown below is from the interior of the book rather than the cover. You can read more here about this incredible book.

The Conference of Birds by Peter Sis