I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!
I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
After reading A Boy Called Bat, you’ll want to dive right into the next two books in the series.
For more “unusual pet” stories, give these books a try! Rascal and The Tarantula in My Purse are juvenile biographies (J 912), and Flora & Ulysses and Pax are juvenile novels found in the juvenile fiction of the library.
To help celebrate our Summer Reading theme Tails and Tales, I want to highlight some of my very favorite tiger picture books. If you don’t currently have a favorite tiger picture book, please check these out! They are all special to me, although for different reasons. I fell in love with Mr. Tiger Goes Wild at first because of the illustrations, inspired in part by A Child’s Garden of Verses (the 1951 version illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen). I also came to love the way Mr. Tiger needs his little escape into the wilderness, but still comes to realize the importance of coming home. Besides all that, I think Peter Brown is a picture book genius. If you don’t believe me, just check out Creepy Pair of Underwear.
Tiger in My Soup, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Cincinnati artist Jeffrey Ebbler, is the story of a young boy who desperately wants his sister to read him a story. Does he imagine the tiger, or is it real?
For every child who has wanted to wander outside at night, just imagine the wonder of coming across a dancing tiger! The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle is perfect for any child who loves the idea of a secret friend. I hope you’re familiar with the picture books by Jan Brett. She often retells traditional folktales and her artwork is always stunning. Look for the side panels in The Tale of the Tiger Slippers to get a hint about what’s coming on the next pages.
I first wrote about the book imprint “Rick Riordan Presents” back in 2019. Since then, the publisher has continued to roll out a great collection of books for a middle school audience based on based on world mythologies that have not been fully represented in children’s literature. These books will appeal to the same kids who devoured the Percy Jackson series, but with a wider geographical reach. Here’s what Rick Riordan had to say about the publishing venture:
“Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!”
Here’s the Rick Riordan Presents list, so far:
By Roshani Chokshi (Hindu mythology): Book 4 is coming in April of 2021.
By J.C. Cervantes (Mayan mythology)
By Yoon Ha Lee ( a stand-alone with ties to Korean mythology)
By Carlos Hernandez (Science-fiction with ties to Cuban mythology)
By Kwame Mbalia (African American folk heroes and West African gods)
By Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo mythology)
By Tehlor Kay Mejia (based on the Mexican legend of the Crying Woman)
By Sarwat Chadda ( based on Mesopotamian mythology)
By Gracie Kim ( based on Korean mythology and coming in May 2021)
Every winter, the library and publishing worlds eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. For publishers, it’s a chance to celebrate the critical success of their books. For authors and illustrators, the awards represent the the highest honors in children’s literature and virtually guarantee the books will be in publication for many, many years. For librarians, it’s just one more reason to share the “best of the best” with library patrons. Here are the 2021 winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The 2021 medal winner, We Are Water Protectors, was illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book was inspired by indigenous-led movements which have sounded an alarm about the need to protect our nation’s waters.
In contrast to the Caldecott, the John Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished American book for children. It typically, though not aways, goes to the author of a chapter book. If you love books based on folklore, you need to read When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller! Here’s teaser from the publisher’s description, “Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.”
The winner of the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award is Jacqueline Woodson for her book Before the Ever After. This novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when the father’s glory days as a professional football player have passed and he experiences the long-term physical effects of his career. Woodson has won numerous book awards including the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award and the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
The Coretta Scott King Book Committee also awards an annual illustrator award and an award for “New Talent.”
You can view the full list of Youth Media Awards here, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers, and the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors and illustrators who present an artistic expression of a disability experience.
A new book by Jerry Pinkney is always a thing to celebrate! His latest is an adaptation of Han Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and it’s available at both library branches. Pinkney is one of the most celebrated illustrators of children’s books in America. He’s adapted and illustrated several well-known fairy tales and fables for a picture-book format, winning the Caldecott medal for The Lion & the Mouse.
Pinkney doesn’t limit himself to retellings. If you love his artwork (and I know you will), you should also check out his other picture books. Just search our online catalog or ask at the circulation desk for more suggestions!
I always enjoy seeing which books appear on the Young Hoosier Reading list each year. These books are chosen by Indiana educators, and schools across the state encourage students to read a selection of the books chosen for their grade level. Near the end of the school year, participating students have a chance to vote for their favorite book. The Aurora Public Library District makes most of these titles available in our collections, and we also try to follow up with sequels to the selected titles.
Here’s a unique series that has been been added since Book 1 was selected for the Young Hoosier list for 2020-2021.
All three books in the series are available at both the Aurora and the Dillsboro Public Libraries and are located in the chapter book area.
After you read these, you might want to also check our some of our non-fiction books about Egypt!
In 2020, Chinese New Year begins on January 25th and ends on February 4th and it would be a great time to explore this Asian holiday by sharing some of our children’s books with your family.
Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats discusses several Chinese holiday and has great recipes and activities for celebrating the Chinese New Year. D is for Dancing Dragon will give you additional information about Chinese culture.
Older children who read or listen to chapter books will enjoy the next three titles with ties to the Chinese holiday. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, so Grace Lin’s book is a perfect choice. You may also want to read The Year of the Dog by Lin.
One of the best-loved authors of children’s books, Patricia Polacco finds inspiration in family stories and in historical events. Although some of her books are written for a very young audience, other books are most suitable for older children and actually are wonderful to share with people of all ages. To locate her books at the library, you may need to consult the online catalog or ask for help, because her books can be found in the Board Book area, the Picture Book collection, or the Juvenile Fiction area.
Polacco’s latest book, The Bravest Man in the World is an account of Wallace Hartley, a fiddle player who continued to play as the Titanic was sinking.
Polacco often draws on her family’s Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry. This heritage is highlighted in books like Chicken Sunday, Rechenka’s Eggs, and The Keeping Quilt.
As a child, Polacco experienced difficulty reading due to dyslexia. She honors the teachers who encouraged her in The Art of Miss Chew, Thank You, Mr. Falker, and Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece.
The days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and a common question for children is “Where do the animals go when it’s cold?” Of course there are many answers to this: they dig under, they fly away, they hibernate, and they grow thicker coats, for example. If your child is curious, why not check out a book to read together? Here are some great choices from the library’s collection. So cuddle up, stay warm, and share the joys of reading and learning together!