Booktalk Week 2

Day 6: November 18th

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”  -  C.S. Lewis

“I seize an idea for the grown-ups and then tell the story to the little ones while always remembering that Father and Mother often listen, and you must also give them something for their minds.”  -  Hans Christian Andersen.   

Robert Sabuda’s latest pop-up book, The Little Mermaid, is a book that some claim is more for adults than children. The pop-up books at my house are unrestricted for children or adults. But I would say the majority of my customers buy the elaborately engineered pop-up books for themselves and other adults. The books are so intricately designed that they require careful handling and are really an art form. They can be challenging for young hands to put back in place. The story is well told but the art competes for attention to the point that I don’t know how many people try to read the text to young children. This is a beautiful book and you will have to determine for yourself if it is a gift for young or old. Which is all relative anyway, right?

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff is told from a boys perspective. I particularly like this because I find that girls are more open to read books about boys than boys are to read books about girls. This is a well told spin on the Rumplestiltskin tale from Germany, collected by the Brothers Grimm. I loved the book before I realized that the author grew up in Salt Lake City and is a graduate of Brigham Young University, but that is a fun bonus. It is a middle grade novel and is great for younger children as a read aloud. I enjoyed reading it and I am on the white hair end of the spectrum. That is quite an impressive interest range.

Don’t miss Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman! Several years ago Mr. Gaiman wrote a picture book titled The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish. Anyone who longed for a pet as a child could understand how easily this could happen. The father becomes a commodity in a series of backyard swaps until Mom comes home and wants him back. Gaiman claims that he has felt bad ever since for his shabby treatment of Dads and has set about to make things right by making Dad the hero of a rollicking adventure that starts when he goes out to buy milk for the cereal. You will laugh aloud. What other books make you LOL?

Reply with contact into and be entered into a drawing for a copy of Fortunately, the Milk.

Day 7: November 19th
Fairy Tales

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."  -  Albert Einstein

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."  -  Neil Gaiman, Fortunately, the Milk

It is always a wonder to me that we have stories that have been loved for over 200 years (Grimm’s Fairy Tales) and even over 2,000 years (Aesop’s Fables). They have staying power that speaks to the human heart and the common human experience that repeats to some degree through all the generations. Couples fall in love. Hard work succeeds. The underdog triumphs. We all want to be seen for the best that is in us. We can empathize with others and laugh at ourselves in fairy tales. I have my favorite old tales and love to hear about yours. Artists continue to astound me with their skill in making old tales new! Some of the best this year are:

The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen retold by Cynthia Rylant (author of the Newbery Award winner Missing May) illustrated by Jen Corace

This book has a satisfying twist to the ending. We tend to sweeten the original these days. What do you think about that?

The Tortoise & the Hare by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney is an Aesop’s Tale he heard as a child by way of Uncle Remus. ‘Slow and steady wins’ was a particularly important message for him as a dyslexic child and he certainly personifies the principle with multiple award winning books.                                                                                                

As much as we love the old original tales we do love fracturing them:

Jan Brett keeps chickens and when a friend told her about a beautiful hen being picked on by two other chickens she thought immediately of Cinderella and Cinders was born. The beautiful Russian winter setting grew from a visit to St. Petersburg.

Little Red Writing is, of course Red Riding Hood in the shape of a pencil corageously writing her way through the story.

Day 8: November 20th
Anthropomorph. . . what? And ABC’s

Personification of inanimate objects is natural in child’s play and we love the idea as adults. Milk has favorite cookies, flowers dance, earth weeps, and houses, trees, mountains and weather are bent on destruction.  Yesterday we saw Little Red Pencil saving the day. Today we have conflict in the crayon box. “Poor Duncan just wants to color.” He takes out his crayons to color and instead he gets letters of grievance from each of the crayons.  They are tired of being over-used, under-used, misunderstood, unappreciated, stubby or naked. You faithful protectors of crayon boxes will feel justified. You know who you are; every classroom had at least one. They wouldn’t share crayons, never broke the tips or peeled the paper off. I admit I always wanted to be that person but could never pull it off. Crayon users on both sides will love The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; one of our favorite author/illustrators, he gave us This Moose Belongs to Me and Stuck and others.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham illustrated by Paul Zelinsky is much more engaging than ABC books that bring the letters forward in a nice orderly fashion. Moose just can’t wait for it to be his turn and Zebra is determined to make him conform or else! It just so happens we move through the alphabet as we enjoy the drama. Alphabet ABC Everywhere by Elliott Kaufman presents the letters in order but opens the door to discovery, challenging children to find letters all around them. An Annoying ABC by Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley careens through an alphabet of children’s names and annoying behaviors until “Adelaide apologized” and things turn around.

"It was a quiet morning until...
Adelaide annoyed Bailey
Bailey blamed Clyde
Clyde cried
Dexter drooled on Eloise"
...on through the alphabet until
"Adelaide apologized."

Carnivores written by Aaron Reynolds illustrated by Dan Santat makes you laugh from the front cover where the fine print declares, “No herbivores were injured, physically or emotionally, in the making of this product. Safe handling instructions: It is recommended that persons use a tranquilizer gun, suit of armor, or shark cage when handling this product” . . .  Savage carnivores have feelings too and lion hurts when the “wildebeests call him ‘bad kitty’ just because he’s eaten half the neighborhood.” Will they be able to “go vegetarian” or will self-acceptance carry the story?

Is the trend of softening harshness in children's books past? What is your choice, reality or euphemism?

Day 9: November 21st

I will admit to turning to the internet for answers and a decreased use of the print encyclopedias at our house. But I love a good non-fiction book and think the selection is better than ever before! When I leave non-fiction books in the popular spots in our house I find the adults enjoy them just as much as the children and it is good for my heart to watch them pour over them together.

Sy Montgomery will be a guest at the July 2014 Books For Young Readers Symposium and she has been a long time favorite of mine. I particularly enjoy her books about scientists. The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal with photographs by Nic Bishop came out in 2013 and is about a shy, strange looking animal that very few people have seen. Montgomery’s books give us an appreciation for the animals as well as the scientists who study them and their importance to the world at large.
Frog Song by Brenda Z Guiberson illustrated by Gennady Spirin defies my preference for photography in non-fiction. This book is gorgeous! The pictures are so beautifully done that they are as informative as a photograph. The onomatopoeia in the text gives the information an appeal even to the very young but it goes beyond age limitations with additional information in the back including a bibliography and suggestions for information on-line.

Strong than Steel: Spider Silk DNA and the Quest for Better Bulletproof Vests, Sutures, and Parachute Rope by Bridget Heos with photographs by Andy Comins is almost more than I can wrap my mind around. At times it feels so incredible as to be the stuff Science Fiction imagines. One of the chapters is titled A New Lab: Utah.  This is definitely in my top ten for the year.
Nasty Bugs with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by local artist Will Terry is the unlikely combination of poetry and, well, nasty bugs –flys, fleas, lice and oh so many more. This is a doorway into poetry for those kids who like the thrill of things a little bit creepy. How Cars Work by Nick Arnold & illustrated by Allan Sanders explains in ways that I, the ultimate mechanical dunce, can understand. This book is a guidebook complete with interactive parts. Buy it for a gift and you are in danger of keeping it for yourself, regardless of age or gender. The Time for Kids books are always hits  -- Where, How, What, Why, Sports, Super Science.  They are especially good for that person who thinks they don’t like books. You can’t help being drawn in by bits of fascinating information. Who Says Women Can't be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Margorie Priceman is about the first female doctor in America. She courageously would not take no for an answer. “Elizabeth didn’t believe in couldn’t or shouldn’t.”

Day 10: November 22nd 

If you have a crowd of all ages coming for the holidays. It is a good idea to strategically place books that have universal appeal. It may be an oldie but Where's Waldo? still works in all volumes. Children and adults are surprisingly well matched when they become competitive at finding Waldo and it leads to some fun book memories. The Time for Kids books work well for the same reasons. Where's Waldo? led to a storm of look & find books of many formats and themes.
Where's the Dragon & it’s sequels have hidden pictures in addition to adventures of George, Grandfather & Meg (the dog). The stories create a bit of suspense as the reader finds what you are anxious for the characters to see. Princess Tales adapted by Grace Maccarone illustrated by Gail de Marcken has ten popular fairy tales written in rhyme and illustrations filled with details and a list of hidden pictures to find in each double page spread. I think these books are particularly engaging for children who have grown up interacting with of electronic entertainment. They provide a positive book experience and and an introduction to time tested stories.

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