Book Club – Book of the Month – February

 

Cover of The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Our tween-teen’s book pick for February is the award-winning book, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Since basketball season is in full swing, our teens thought it’d be fun to dive into a book about basketball. Interestingly, although there is a major basketball phenomenon going on throughout the book, there are various off-the-court situations driving the story as well. What is interesting is the author’s unique way of tying these life situations into the game of basketball through the thoughts, words, and actions of the characters. He uses phrases like, “In this game of life” … “If you miss enough of life’s free throws” … “Never let anyone lower your goals” … Etc. The parallels between basketball and life is incredibly amazing and that is what makes this book a recommended read for both basketball and non-basketball fans.

OUR TEENS:

If you’re a basketball fan, you’ll enjoy reading this book. Here’s why:

I’m a huge basketball fan so I am definitely feeling this book. The book is so smooth, it’ll pull you into the games without you even realizing it. Josh’s first-hand narrative of each game is so descriptive and intense, it’ll have you on edge. As players drive the ball up and down the court, he describes every dribble, pass, rebound, block, steal, shot, and dunk to the point where you feel connected to the game. At the same time, you’re also absorbing the energy from the audience. You get first-hand view of their screams, hollers, cheers, laughs, chants, and trash-talking. You also get to experience their pain and anger, their fear and frustration, their anxiety and excitement, their victory and defeat … you truly get soaked in and feel as if you’re a part of the entire experience.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where I felt so connected to the characters. I’ve always felt the excitement and energy from watching and playing basketball games. I couldn’t have imagined that reading about it would give me similar experience. The book is upbeat, full  of twists and turns. Many moments I never saw coming, until it hit me like a brick. Ouch! Whew! This is what makes the book so exciting and intense! I highly recommended it for all, but especially for those who love basketball.Gabe, 15 

If you’re not a basketball fan, you’ll still enjoy reading this book. Here’s why:

This would have been one of the last books I would have chosen because I am not a basketball fan. However, I soon realized that the book has more to do with life off the court than on. The book consists of small poems collectively working together to create a storyline. We meet Josh Bell, a middle school basketball phenom with great confidence, skills and potential.  We also meet his twin brother Jordan who also has great skills on the court and shoots like lightning out on the court. The twins are teammates, pals, best buddies on and off the court, through thick and thin, until a girl comes between. Their brotherly bond is almost totally shattered, but strangely and surprisingly another family tragedy reconnects and seals their bond.

Life outside the court is my favorite part of the book. I particularly love reading the interactions among the Bell family members. Their close family ties are depicted in their everyday interactions with one another. No matter what trials and tribulations they face, their bond remains strong and tight. It makes me want to  love on my family even more. The book is filled with valuable life lessons and family values that I think everyone will enjoy.  It’s a great family read for all. Gabby, 16

BOOK OVERVIEW:

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013). Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. Leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Club – Book of the Month – August

Serafina and the Black Cloak - Book

“Our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight.”  ― Robert Beatty, Serafina and the Black Cloak

We have chosen Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty as our tweens-teens’ book club selection for August. We first featured this book on our Facebook and twitter pages as one of our must-read summer picks and as a possible book club selection. Our initial attraction to the book was influenced by the fact that its setting, Biltmore Estate,  happens to be one of our favorite summer attractions. Our fascination grew after viewing the book trailer. Ultimately, our overall decision became set in stone after meeting the author at a local book signing event. The kids were particularly excited to meet and interact with him and the characters of the book; while the parents were highly impressed by his patience and willingness to sign all the books, take photos, and answer questions. What a great experience that was! But that’s a whole other blog post.

The book was released July 14, 2015 and immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. We bought several copies and our teens immediately dug in. The book is intriguing and addictive. This is a book that can easily suck you in and have you lose track of time because the storyline is extremely captivating. We are still reading and discussing the book, and are inviting  you to join us. Until everyone finishes, this is where we are so far:

Twelve-year-old Serafina lives with her pa in the basement of the Biltmore Estate that he helped construct. Her pa spends most of his time performing maintenance duties at the estate while Serafina spends most of her time secretly exploring the estate.  She is forbidden from venturing into the forest because “there are dark forces there that no one understands, things that ain’t natural and can do ya wicked harm.” She is restricted from interacting with dwellers and guests of the estate in order to avoid being noticed. She is also discouraged from inquiring about her past, all for reasons unknown to readers thus far.

Life, as usual as possible, for Serafina would soon take an unusual turn as she witnesses a man wearing a black cloak chasing and soon snatching a little girl. Serafina tries to save the girl but is unable to as the cloak consumes the girl. Serafina then resumes fleeing for her life, as the man in the black cloak chases after her. She is able seek refuge in one of her many secret hiding places. Nonetheless, this is just the beginning of this unusual and terrifying encounter. We can’t wait to see how this all turns out.  Hope you’ll join us in reading this book. As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.  

Book Overview:
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and oppulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.

Book Trailer:

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

 

 

 

 

Book Club – Book of the Month – July

The Book Thief - Paperback

“She could smell the pages. She could almost taste the words as they stacked up around her.” — Markus Zusak, The Book Thief.

In case you’re still wondering, our tweens-teens’ book selection for July is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Here’s what one of our teens wrote about the book:

I love this book! It is about a girl named Liesel, who is sent to the home of her foster parents after her brother’s death. She is faced with all the Nazi’s horrors and struggles. During this time, her foster family, who is German, hides a Jewish man named Max in order to protect him from the danger of getting killed by the Nazi soldiers. Meanwhile, this action of hiding a Jewish person puts them at an even greater risk of getting killed themselves. This goes on for a while.

Over time, Liesel’s foster father, Hans Hubermann, begins secretly teaching her to read as books are being burned and destroyed by Nazi soldiers. Liesel then secretly shares all that she’s learning with Max, considering he’s unable to read. Liesel also begins stealing books from a library to get ideas and inspirations to create her own stories. As the war becomes more dangerous, Max decides to leave the family, as he feels that his staying would continue to keep them in great danger.

Only a few nights after Max leaves, Liesel’s city is bombed, leaving very few survivors. Liesel is the lone survivor in her family. Fast-forward to two years later Liesel and Max are reunited inside a shop owned by one of her friend’s father. They immediately greet each other with a hug, a somewhat happy ending following a series of tragic beginnings.

The book inspires me because it depicts the true value and meaning of friendship and kindness towards others. Leisel’s family is willing to risk their lives to protect Max (by keeping him in their home), and Max is willing to risk his life to protect theirs (by leaving their home). No one is thinking of the well-being of oneself but rather of the well-being of the other. I find that rather admirable and honorable.

Also, as Liesel is taught to read, she pays it forward by teaching Max to read. As a teen, I feel these are lessons that are much needed among teens today  — lessons of kindness, compassion, generosity, unselfishness, friendship, etc. I love the book and would highly recommend it to all tweens and teens.   —Gabe, 14 years old.

As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two on this book or other books you and your young readers are reading.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

13 Children’s Books Honoring and Celebrating Dads

Books can be used for both educational and entertaining purposes during holidays. Some books may teach kids about the history and purpose of a holiday, while others may simply entertain and bring out the holiday spirit in kids. Some books do both. Here are 13 Father’s Day children’s books that will bring out the holiday spirit in kids, while honoring and celebrating dads.

My Dad Can Do Anything

1. My Dad Can Do Anything by Stephen Krensky (Author), Mike Wohnoutka (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 7 years

Overview: What can your dad do? Can he climb the highest mountain? Or swim to the bottom of the sea? In this heartwarming story about how dads are strong, brave, and all-around great, dads can do anything. Includes a sheet of fun stickers!

The Night Before Father's Day

 

2. The Night Before Father’s Day by Natasha Wing (Author), Amy Wummer (illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: It’s the night before Father’s Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin! This book goes along with The Night Before Mother’s Day.

Hero-Dad

3. Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin (Author), Bryan Langdo (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: A boy compares his father, a U.S. soldier, to a superhero. This book goes along with Hero Mom.

Father's Day Book

4. Father’s Day by Anne Rockwell (Author), Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: In Mrs. Madoff’s class, it’s a book made just for him. First the kids think about their special moments with their fathers. Sam’s dad is so strong, he can carry Sam on his shoulders. Eveline’s dad sings to her when Maman has to work at night. Jessica writes about her father in Texas … and her stepfather at home. And when it’s time to celebrate at school, both of her fathers give Jessica the best surprise of all. This book goes along with Mother’s Day.

Up on Daddy's Shoulders 1

5. Up on Daddy’s Shoulders by Matt Berry (Author), Lucy Corvino (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 5 years

Overview: Feeling taller than his big brother, his house, and the giraffes at the zoo, a little boy spends the day on his daddy’s shoulders as they go for a walk around their neighborhood.

A Father's Song

6. A Father’s Song by Janet Lawler (Author), Lucy Corvino (Illustrator) -Ages 3 – 6 years

Overview: How many ways can dad show his love? He can lift his son high in the air, gather him close for a ride down the slide, make funny faces to ward away tears, and fly him around “like an airplane that swoops.” Together, they’ll roll in the leaves, go on the swings, and roar like lions. Best of all, the verse offers fathers plenty of opportunities to play as they read–to tussle and hug, and to make silly sounds and expressions. And that means kids will want their dads to share this with them over and over again. What a delightful celebration of the bond between father and child–and a tale to make Father’s Day extra special. This book goes along with A Mother’s Song.

I Love My Daddy Because

7. I Love My Daddy Because… by Laurel Porter Gaylor (Author), Ashley Wolff (Illustrator) -Ages 1 – 3 years

Overview: The youngest nursery tots will appreciate how phrases and actions from their own experiences also apply to animal babies.  The book begins with an affectionate scene between a human parent and child, but moves on to caregiving in animal families.  “He sings me songs” shows a gray wolf and his cub.  In concept, text, and art, this is among the most warm and reassuring lap books ever. This book goes along with I Love My Mommy Because…

Daddy's Little Scout

8. Daddy’s Little Scout by Janet Bingham (Author), Rosalind Beardshaw (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: It’s springtime, and Little Fox and Daddy Fox are visiting the animals of the forest to see their new homes. Mrs. Finch is building a new nest. The rabbit family is making new rabbit holes. And Mr. Mole is digging new tunnels. Little Fox is outgrowing their old den, and the Foxes will need a new home, too. Little Fox is glad that their new home will not be high in a tree, in a prickly bush, or in a cold wet stream. Little Fox realizes that the best home is snug and warm in a den . . . with Daddy Fox! This book goes along with Mommy’s Little Star.

Saturday Is Dadurday

9. Saturday Is Dadurday by Robin Pulver (Author), R. W. Alley (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad. Every “Dadurday” begins the same way–Mimi and Dad make silly-shaped pancakes, read the comics section of the newspaper and make lists of fun things to do together. But when Dad gets a new work schedule, “Dadurday” is ruined. Can Mimi find a way to still make it a special day for her and dad?

Daddy Calls Me Man

10. Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson (Author), Rhonda Mitchell (Illustrator)- Ages 3 and up

Overview: Inspired by his family experiences and his parents’ paintings, a young boy creates four poems. In four vibrant verses and spectacular oil paintings, a young boy revels in the everyday pleasures of growing up in a family of fine artists. A still life of shoes inspires Noah to measure his own little ones against the big ones of his father. The whirl of an abstract painting encourages him to spin with his older sister. The moon outside his window is the same one that glows on his mother’s canvas. But the subject that brings out the best in Noah — and inspires his daddy to call him a man — has her crib right there in his parents’ studio. With its bold colors and arresting perspectives, this book is a celebration of art and an exaltation of family.

SPECIAL BOOKS:

Father’s Day is a joyous holiday to celebrate and honor fathers. Unfortunately, not all children welcome it with open arms. In fact, many kids spend Father’s Day without their fathers, due to incarceration, divorce, and death. While it is never a pleasant experience to watch one’s parent(s) go to jail, go through divorce, or die, sadly, many kids are having to experience just that. As Father’s Day approaches, these books will serve to help these kids understand and cope with these difficult life challenges.

The Night Dad Went to Jail

11. The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail (Life’s Challenges) by Melissa Higgins (Author), Wednesday Kirwan (Illustrator) -Ages 5 – 8 years

Overview: When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times.

Weekends with Dad

12. Weekends with Dad: What to Expect when Your Parents Divorce (Life’s Challenges) by Melissa Higgins (Author), Wednesday Kirwan (Illustrator) -Ages 5 – 8 years

Overview: When your parents divorce, it can feel like the world turns upside down. What do you do? Whether you live mostly at your moms or dads, this story can help you through the tough times.

Where Are You - Book

13. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri (Author), Kristin Elder (Illustrator) -Ages 4 – 8 years

Overview: Where Are You: A Child’s Book About Loss is a kind and supportive text with beautiful illustrations designed to help children of all ages cope with the loss of a loved one. It is created with love and care so that even the youngest readers will find comfort during this stressful and difficult time.

As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. What books are you reading together to celebrate Father’s Day? You may leave a comment or two.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

Book Club – Book of the Month – May

NEST - ESTHER EHRLICH

Our tweens-teens’ book selection for May is Nest by Esther Ehrlich. I must say, this was one of the toughest book club decisions thus far, and I’ll explain why in a minute.

When I started our tweens-teens’ book club, our approach to selecting books was simple ― we read it, we like it, we share it. That seemed simple enough … until we actually started diving deeper and deeper into the books. Now, we read it, we like it, we then wonder whether to share it. Liking a book is one thing, recommending it is another.

While we love to recommend every book we read and like, we sometimes wrestle with whether the theme is too dark or heavy for teens, let alone tweens. Nest is one of those books we wrestled with. The book tackles many deep and dark topics such as terminal illness, depression, and ultimately death. While trying not give too much away, I feeI the need to give parents the heads up.

Ultimately, our decision was influenced by the fact that the book raises awareness of these issues, real life situations.  Life doesn’t always have fairytale beginnings, middles, or endings. In fact, life rarely does, and children ought to be aware of that. This reminds me of a quote I came across recently: “One thing we shouldn’t do is shield kids from everyday frustrations. They need to experience everyday failures and challenges. It’s the kids who never feel frustrated who are vulnerable later.” And I feel this book coveys this message quite well.

Having said all this, I should mention that this is a book we read, we liked, and we shared. Nonetheless, parental guidance and discretion are advised. I think it’s a great book. I will, however, suggest parents read it either before or with your tweens or teens, as it will open doors to a whole lot of challenging questions and interesting discussions. After all, isn’t that what we want anyway? Thoughts?

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Synopsis: For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.

Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.

Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

11 Memorable Children’s Books About Libraries and Librarians

Librarian -The Original Search Engine

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.” — Caitlin Moran

Librarian -The Original Search Engine

This week is National Library Week. There are several themes throughout the week to help you celebrate, including National Library Workers DayNational Bookmobile Day, and Celebrate Teen Literature Day. These are themes that can easily be celebrated throughout the year, and we encourage you to do so. Nonetheless, we particularly love these kinds of events because they thrust books and the people behind them in the spotlight. 

We hope that you will take full advantage of these opportunities to celebrate books and the people behind them. Moreover, we encourage you to take your kids to the library, and while you’re there, be sure to thank your librarians and tell them how much you appreciate what they do to impact literature and literacy. Without further ado, here are 11 memorable children’s books you can read with your kids to honor and celebrate National Library Week. As always, feel free to share some of your favorites, particularly those we may have missed. Happy National Library Week!

Library book 1

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (Ages 5 and up) by Carla Morris (Author), Brad Sneed (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis:  Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. Everything has its place in the library and Melvin likes it that way. And his favorite people–Marge, Betty, and Leola–are always in their places, behind the reference desk.

When something interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. When he collects creepy bugs in a jar, they help him identify, classify, and catalog the insects. When he is cast as the Enormous Eggplant in the school play, Betty reads aloud from Organic Gardening to help him find his motivation. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions–and a lot of fun–in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?

Library Book 2

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians (Ages 4-8 years) by Jackie Mims Hopkins (Author), John Manders (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Students will love our fractured fairy tale that puts a new twist on the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Use the coordinating posters and bookmarks to reinforce the lessons taught in the book.

Deep in an enchanted forest, a little girl named Goldie Socks finds a storybook cottage. When she looks inside, she finds shelves and shelves filled with books. As she searches for 1 that is just right and a comfy place to read it, Mama, Papa and Baby Libearian discover that someone has been in their house!

Library Book3

Library Mouse (Ages 4-8 years) by Daniel Kirk (Author)

Book Synopsis: Beloved children’s books author and illustrator Daniel Kirk wonderfully brings to life the story of Sam, a library mouse. Sam’s home was in a little hole in the wall in the children’s reference books section, and he thought that life was very good indeed. For Sam loved to read. He read picture books and chapter books, biographies and poetry, and ghost stories and mysteries. Sam read so much that finally one day he decided to write books himself!

Sam shared his books with other library visitors by placing them on a bookshelf at night. Until there came the time that people wanted to meet this talented author. Whatever was Sam to do?

Library Book4

Tomas and the Library Lady (Ages 3-7 years) by Pat Mora (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather’s wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. “There are more stories in the library,” Papa Grande tells him.  The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him.

Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries–and education–can make possible.  Raul Colón’s warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás’ life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.

Library Book5

I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word (Ages 5-8 years) by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Author), Herb Leonhard (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: A most exciting word has the whole library abuzz. What combination of letters could possibly drive a person to do such absurd things? Fascinated children look on as Miss Divine dines on a table, chomps down a chair, and savors a shelf-all to chase down a single word. Written in the style of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” this book reveals the only verb that could make a librarian practically purr, and that word is READ.

Library Book6

The Storyteller’s Candle (Ages 6 and up) by Lucia Gonzalez (Author), Lulu Delacre (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: The winter of 1929 feels especially cold to cousins Hildamar and Santiago—they arrived in New York City from sunny Puerto Rico only months before. Their island home feels very far away indeed, especially with Three Kings’ Day rapidly approaching. But then a magical thing happened. A visitor appears in their class, a gifted storyteller and librarian by the name of Pura Belpré. She opens the children’s eyes to the public library and its potential to be the living, breathing heart of the community.

The library, after all, belongs to everyone—whether you speak Spanish, English, or both. The award-winning team of Lucía González and Lulu Delacre have crafted an homage to Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian. Through her vision and dedication, the warmth of Puerto Rico came to the island of Manhattan in a most unexpected way.

Library book8

The Lonely Book (Ages 4-8 years) by Kate Bernheimer (Author), Chris Sheban (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: When a wonderful new book arrives at the library, at first it is loved by all, checked out constantly, and rarely spends a night on the library shelf. But over time it grows old and worn, and the children lose interest in its story. The book is sent to the library’s basement where the other faded books live. How it eventually finds an honored place on a little girl’s bookshelf—and in her heart—makes for an unforgettable story sure to enchant anyone who has ever cherished a book. Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban have teamed up to create a picture book that promises to be loved every bit as much as the lonely book itself.

Library Book9

Lola at the Library (Ages 2-5 years) by Anna McQuinn (Author), Rosalind Beardshaw (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people who love them

Library Book 17

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile (Ages 4-8 years) by Gloria Houston (Author), Susan Condie Lamb (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: When Dorothy was a young girl, she loved books, and she loved people, so she decided that she would become a librarian. Dorothy’s dearest wish is to be a librarian in a fine brick library just like the one she visited when she was small. But her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries, so Miss Dorothy and her neighbors decide to start a bookmobile. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them—at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile is an inspiring story about the love of books, the power of perseverance, and how a librarian can change people’s lives.

Library Book16

That Book Woman (Ages 4-8 years) by Heather Henson (Author), David Small (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Cal is not the readin’ type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he’d rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that’s not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish — or is she braver than he ever thought?

That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history — the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.

library Book15

Goin’ Someplace Special (Ages 4-8 years) by Patricia C. Mckissack (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: There’s a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color…and ‘Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. When her grandmother sees that she’s ready to take such a big step, ‘Tricia Ann hurries to catch the bus heading downtown. But unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair. Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there’s a friend around the corner reminding ‘Tricia Ann that she’s not alone. And even her grandmother’s words —  “You are somedbody, a human being — no better, no worse than anybody else in this world” —  echo in her head, lifting her spirits and pushing her forward.

Patricia C. McKissack’s poignant story of growing up in the segregated South and Jerry Pinkney’s rich, detailed watercolors lead readers to the doorway of freedom.

Special Bonus: “For me, the library was a doorway to freedom, to free thought. When you’re being taught, “you can’t, you can’t, you can’t” … the library says, “you can, you can, you can.” And I did.” — Patricia McKissack, on the inspiration behind Goin’ Someplace Special.  Watch video: An Excerpt from Goin’ Someplace Special.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Club – Book of the Month – April

A Long Walk To Water

One of our teens suggested A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park as our tweens-teens’ book club selection for April. Having read this book several times, I was a little hesitant about this choice; not because it isn’t a great book, but rather because I was uncertain about how our tweens and teens would handle some of what I would consider heart-rending, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking scenes and an overall melancholic theme. 

Almost immediately, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by A. B. Curtiss, author of The Little Chapel That Stood (which, by the way, is an awesome read for 4-8 year-olds).

Quote: “A children’s book about 9-11 presents a difficult task. We want to shield children from violence and fear, but we don’t want to shield them from courage and heroism. We want to protect them, but we also want them to grow up brave and strong.”

Well, let’s just say we’ve chosen A Long Walk to Water as our April book selection. I believe our young readers will handle the story quite well once they connect the life struggles with the life lessons, the gloom with the glory, the trials and tribulations with the triumphs. I think the hardship has a purpose and place in this book just as much as the victory does. The problems are there to teach the lessons and the lessons are there to explain the problems. They both are essential to the overall telling of the story.

That leads to this question: Do you find yourself second-guessing book choices for your kids due to unsettling themes or do you consider such themes essential to the overall telling of the story? As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. Please leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are reading.

Book Synopsis: The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day.

The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids