105 Ways to Give a Book

Hello, KidLitosphere!

Why hello, KidLitosphere. Have a nice summer? (Yawwwn.) I feel like I’m waking up from a long sleep and still need my coffee. Sure I was up a few times during the “night,” for a quick posting or two, but now it is time to wake up and get going.

If the smell of bacon might get me stirring from my bed on a lazy Sunday morning, than it is the call for Cybils judges that stirs me now. You, potential panelists, are my bacon. I’m excited to meet you. Now, don’t email me for your Cybils scoop, even if I am the organizer for Fiction Picture Books. Read over the Cybils judging info and then submit your name for consideration on the Cybils form.

Of course, I’m also being pulled from my blissful repose by a steady sizzle. Not of pancakes on the griddle, but the upcoming KidLitCon Seattle. I’ve registered, snagged a panel presentation, and booked my flight/hotel. I’ve been processing your checks for the KidLitCon 2011 team and looking forward to seeing — and meeting — my blogging buddies. There is still time to register for this fabulous conference. In fact, I’d say there is no time better. The line-up of sessions looks fantastic, and the keynote speaker is Scott Westerfeld! And even so, I’ll still bet that the best moments for you as an attendee will come from meeting the bloggers and authors in real life. There really is nothing like it.

So, with all the excitement, it is time to get going, KidLitosphere! Just let me get my coffee...

Thursday Three Thirteen: Summer Picture Books

Like last week’s post of summer chapter books, I’m giving quick summaries of thirteen picture books. And these are special picture books, selected by me over my years of experience with the titles to put together a list that represents many different and diverse summers. Even as a proclaimed beach bum, I’ve limited my shore stories to only two, leaving room for the many ways people see summer in the city, in parades, in the pool, and even abroad. I’ve also organized this list in order of the author, making it easier to print out and find the books at your local library. Let us begin with my personal favorite that just happens to be first...

by Elisha Cooper

A day at the beach is captured beautifully in a series of seashore scenes from suntanning to swimming to shoveling sand. A beach-lover’s delight.

And Then It Rained : And Then the Sun Came Out...
by Crescent Dragonwagon, illustrated by Diane Greenseid

In one side of this story, the rain just won’t stop, but turn the book over and it’s the story of a blaring sun-baked town that needs the refreshing (turn it over) rain. Very clever.

Bebé goes to the BeachBebé Goes to the Beach
by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Steven Salerno

A sprinkle of Spanish words throughout the text sets apart this beach tale of one bebé who keeps his mama quite busy.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
by Marla Frazee

Two boys spent the week at Grandpa’s “camp,” with different interpretations of the activities than those of the adults around them. Terrific fun.

Mermaids on ParadeMermaids on Parade
by Melanie Hope Greenberg

Everyone loves a parade — and mermaids for that matter — and this book celebrates both in its depiction of the annual Coney Island event.

Come on, Rain
by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth

In the heat of the city, a girl waits for the rain to cool things off, and then celebrates by dancing outside with friends and family when it finally comes. Joyful and lovely.

When the Fireflies Come
by Jonathan London, illustrated by Terry Widener

A slow summer day of barbecue and baseball turns into a slow summer night with friends and fireflies. What could be better?

The Boy Who Wouldn’t SwimThe Boy Who Wouldn’t Swim
by Deb Lucke

Regardless of the heat, a young boy won’t swim in the pool, but finally gives in to find that he never wants to get out!

Summer Sun Risin’
by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Don Tate

A day on a farm in the summertime includes plenty of chores, but also time for fishing and stories for an African American family.

Think Cool ThoughtsThink Cool Thoughts
by Elizabeth Perry, illustrated by Linda Bronson

A young girl tries to keep cool in her city apartment, but is excited by the prospect of sleeping on the roof with her mom and aunt.

Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic
by Steven Schnur, illustrated by Leslie Evans

Summer stables become poems as linoleum-block illustrations set the scenes.

Monsoon AfternoonMonsoon Afternoon
by Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeqqi

On a visit to India, a boy learns of the pleasures to be found in the summer monsoon season through the eyes of his beloved grandfather.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
by Mark Teague

An imaginative boy spins a tale of Wild West adventures when asked about his summer vacation. How’s yours going?

(This post was previously published at PBS Booklights)

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Nonfiction Monday: Parrots

Ten years ago, nonfiction books about animals would feature a block of text on one page with a second-rate photo on the opposite page. Then came the trend — still popular — of having several text boxes, a few photos, several captions, and maybe a “fun facts” box — the busy look catering to the short-attention-span crowd. But in the last few years a new generation of books is putting more focus on the photos, with amazing results. I’ve blogged about the Nic Bishop books and the Face to Face series, but here’s another find from my local library.

Parrots (The Wild World of Animals)
by Jill Kalz

ParrotsThe text is pretty standard, informational stuff — but the photos are spectacular! One huge, stunning, no-borders, full-page picture, with text in a box over the photo itself. Some of the pictures fill up the two-page spread. Now with a subject as colorful as parrots, this style is exceptionally stunning, but you’ll also relish the chance to explore many other topics in the series, The Wild World of Animals, including koalas, lions, dolphins, swans, and giraffes. The series has been around for a while, so you’ll want to look at the redesigned books published in 2006 or later. Here is an Amazon link to that listing.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Ana’s Nonfiction Blog

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Thursday Three Thirteen: Summer Chapter Books

I’m doing something a little different today. Instead of writing single-paragraph reviews of three books, I’m giving quick summaries of thirteen books for the elementary school crowd. But in missing the review, you’ll get my personal stamp of approval over the many summer books I have known — and I’ve known quite a few. These are in addition to my already profiled summer books. I’ve listed the books roughly in order of the target age of the reader, from youngest to oldest. That said, many of the books would be great to read aloud to younger readers, as I’ve made up this collection of mostly lighter summer books.

Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp ShakedownLunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown
by Jarrett Krosoczka
A new addition to younger graphic novels is this series featuring a Lunch Lady with astonishing abilities to fight crime and serve tater tots. With the Breakfast Bunch kids, she tackles a new enemy at summer camp. Silly fun!

Babymouse: Beach Babe
by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
An earlier book in the Babymouse graphic novel series brings us a trip to the beach that can’t help but go wrong. Oh, Babymouse, I love you so. (Also look for Camp Babymouse.)

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
by Barbara O’Connor
Feeling bored in his small Southern town, Popeye befriends a newcomer named Elvis who finds adventure in everything. A great book for seeing the wonders in the everyday world.

 Moxy Maxwell does not Love Stuart Little Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
by Peggy Gifford
Someone has been putting off her summer reading — and continues to find ways to do so in amazingly elaborate ways. The photographs and the clever section titles add to this amusing book. (Also, one of my favorite covers of all time.)

Summer Reading is Killing Me
by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
Summer reading doesn’t work out well for the Time Warp Trio either, as the boys put their booklist in “The Book” and end up caught in a world of good and bad characters from children’s literature. Mayhem ensues.

Lowji Disovers America
by Candice Fleming
When Lowji arrives from India, he comes with wishes for new friends and pets. But summer vacation makes it hard find kids in his neighborhood, and his landlady is not fond of animals. No matter, as Lowji’s positive attitude and clever solutions get him results in amusing ways.

 Summer According to Humphrey Summer According to Humphrey
by Betty Birney
The little hamster with the big series of adventures gets to go to Camp Happy Hollow where he meets a wild mouse, visits the lake, and helps the kids adjust to the outdoor life and each other. There’s always fun to be had with Humphrey.

Minn and Jake’s Almost Terrible Summer
by Janet Wong, illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Jake returns to his home for a visit, but didn’t expect his camp-free summer to be ruined by his Halmoni’s plans and his little brother’s annoyances. When his best friend Minn makes a visit, even that causes conflict. Can this summer be saved?

The Lemonade War
by Jacqueline Davis
When Evan finds out that his younger sister Jessie is going to skip a grade right into his class, he channels his anger into a challenge as to who can make the most money with competing lemonade stands. An interesting and often amusing story of marketing strategies, sibling rivalry, and making lemonade.

 Any Which Wall Any Which Wall
by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
“Common magic” takes four kids out of their boring summer doldrums when a magical wall transports them into different worlds of adventures, including a pirate ship and Camelot. Delightful story with a timeless tone.

Lawn Boy (and Lawn Boy Returns)
by Gary Paulsen
A lesson in business and the free-market economy is contained in this story of a boy who starts with a old riding law mower and ends up as a young tycoon. Funny and yet highly educational.

Tortilla Sun
Jennifer Cerventes
When twelve-year old Izzy visits her Nana’s remote New Mexico village for the summer, she discovers secrets about her father, along with a view into a different world. Sweet with a touch of magic.

One Crazy Summer One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Sent out to stay out of the house by their estranged mother, three sisters spend a summer in 1968 among the Black Panthers learning about revolution, identity, and personal responsibility. A deeper book, for certain, but with its own lightness and humor.

Free Baseball
by Sue Corbett
Mistaken for a batboy by a local Cuban team, Felix takes the opportunity to hang out with the ballplayers — and maybe find out something about his dad. Certainly a book that features the game well, but also the complexity of relationships and secrets.

(This post was previously published at PBS Booklights)

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Our Summer Vacation

For our summer vacation we went to New York City. Generally it would be an odd choice for late July, when the heat of the concrete brings the temperature most closely approximate to that of Hell. And that’s not even counting the smell...

But we had a purpose in the tween’s Broadway Artists Alliance two-week program and a drive to enjoy the city to the fullest extent. With the experience of our previous visits, we no longer felt the need to hit the tourist places, but instead to experience the city life and to try new things.

Tween had a wonderful time at BAA, honing her performance skills with some illustrious Broadway faculty. Her favorite moment was practicing her song “Lamest Place in the World” by singing directly to Adam Kantor — of RENT fame. Our favorite was seeing her monologue in the final showcase, which she delivered perfectly. Truly, I found the showcase for parents and industry astonishing, in that every one of those kids was fantastic. There was one boy who sang well but looked nervous, which just reinforced for me how amazing it was that seventy kids under fifteen years old performed well and with confidence.

Teen and I had a blast exploring the city. We often feel like best friends, but even more so on this trip where we were really travel buddies. Together we’d figure out what we wanted to do, we each made compromises for each other, helped soothe over each other’s cranky spells, and looked to find the humor in things. We walked until our feet hurt. We shopped, but bought very little. We laughed a lot, and treated ourselves to cupcakes, cookies, and chocolates as needed.

I don’t even know how I would go into everything we did, or who would care to read it, so I’ll go for a summary of our adventures. We window shopped at Saks, Tiffany’s, FAO Schwarz, Apple, Prada, and American Girl. At Bond No. 9 we decided on our signature scents and wished we could be “job creators.” We went to the American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art, Tenement Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. Teen toured Columbia University (and loved it — oh, no...), New York University (great film studies program) and NBC Studios (possible future page postion). Teen and I took a dance class at BAA with Tyrick Jones, watched Broadway in Bryant Park, and toured the New York Public Library.

We saw RENT off-Broadway, and would have liked it better if our seats hadn’t been so bad. Teen and I saw Avenue Q, which was funny, brilliant, and quite raunchy for a show with puppets. We all went to see two Broadway plays, Catch Me if You Can — which was fun — and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — which was ridiculously entertaining, especially Daniel Radcliffe, who was working as hard as I’ve ever seen an actor work. No phoning it in for this kid. Look at him dance:

Over the two weeks the family sampled street fairs and sample sales, gelato and gyros, the Strand and the High Line, Rockerfeller Center and Fort Tryon Park. Our home base for the first week was a friend’s apartment in the peaceful, lovely, birdsong-filled Washington Heights. We spent the second week in my cousin’s place in the accessible, lively, city-at-your doorstep East Village. There was no drive to purchase “souvenirs,” but we bought books, sundresses, fun jewelry, and feathers for our hair. (It’s a thing!) Breakfast meant bagels, and we had our favorite dollar-a-slice pizza place to nosh after class. We knew which direction to turn on the grid of city streets. The subway lines began to make sense.

Which meant it was time to come home and recover from becoming New Yorkers. The detox took about a week, and while I don’t miss the stench of the subway platforms or the steady drip of condensation from a thousand air conditioners, I can’t wait to go back. In fact, I kinda want to live there. Who knew?

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Threadless Sale

Huzzah! It’s time again for a Threadless sale. Their highly creative, often artistic t-shirts are selling for ten or twelve bucks — an absolute bargain for a book lover to make a statement like this:

The Best Channels since 1465 is just one of the many cool shirts featured. On the reading end, you might add Brainy Rainbow to your collection:

This Book Lover is a natural for me, with both a giraffe and books:

Or on a completely different note, you could share some feelings about couplehood with Love is Love:

This is the time to stock up, because sizes sell out fast. Along with the fourth selection here, I bought the lovely Secret Lake for me and Squinjas!, the humorous portrayal of ninja squirrels trying to steal scout cookies, for the tween. What Threadless shirt do you love?

New York City Travel Guides

I never take a trip without consulting some sort of written word about the destination. Sometimes an Internet search will suffice, but when exploring New York City for two weeks, a person needs a travel guide. And having investigated the choices over several trips, I can recommend two titles that you can carry with you. And that carrying is important, as many guidebooks spend precious pages describing the hotels of the area, but once you’ve arrived at your travel destination those pages are dead weight. Personally, I’m also not much of a foodie and tend to skim over the next hundred pages of restaurants I won’t go to. So these all-purpose travel guides are worthless to me as they don’t provide the one thing I really need: easily accessible information in a concise volume.

Moon Metro: New York CityTwo years ago I found a used copy of Moon Metro: New York City, and after enjoying it for several trips am loving it enough to purchase a newer edition. This book is perfect for the traveler on the go in New York. Each section of the city is broken down with a short description on a two-page spread. Open those pages for an easy-to-read map of that area and a key to important points of interest. For just a quick look at the streets, you’re only discreetly opening one fold, instead of struggling with a huge, tourist-indicating map. The second half of the book includes quick summaries of top sites, restaurants, shops, amusements, and hotels. You won’t get the detail, descriptions, and pricing listed in bigger books, but that’s what the Internet is for.

Frommer’s New York City Day by DayThe second book I tried out on this trip was Frommer’s New York City Day by Day, which I had received for free at Book Expo America. Again, a small book with the focus being on the city, not on hotels and the logistics of getting there. The front cover folds out to cover the two biggest sections of New York — Downtown and Midtown/Uptown — with streets, subway lines, and major places of interest. A larger, sturdy fold-out map is included to cover the rest and give more detail. Personally, I didn’t carry the book around every day, but I sure kept this map with me at all times. The focus of this title was to break down the city not only into neighborhoods to visit, but into other ways to tour — like by greatest buildings, best walks, or famous film sites. The descriptions of sites are brief, but fleshed out with addresses, prices, and hours of operation.

I found that the subway information in both books was tightly squeezed, making it hard to read — especially for a subway newbie like myself. I recommend supplementing with the huge map you can get from any of the stations. The map is geared toward displaying the subway stops accurately, and as such often distorts the streets in a way that they are not to scale, but it certainly lays out a lot of useful information. I got two and cut one down to only show the Manhattan info, making it easy to carry in my purse.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.