Posts tagged: children’s books

Popmatic Podcast for March 16, 2016: I Don’t Want to Grow Up

By , March 16, 2016

Attack of the Fluffy BunniesThere’s a new Pee-wee Herman movie coming out so on this show we talk about kids stuff that is also great for adults. Appropriately enough, Klem-Mari from Bringing Books to Life joins us to share some kids books that will also tickle the fancy of grown ups. Hurricane Amanda continues her series on the best weather books. All this and this and more on this week’s episode of the Popmatic Podcast.


Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford

The Witches by Roald Dahl illustrated by Quentin Blake

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad by Mark Kistler

Bringing Books to Life’s book picks

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

the works of Mo Willems

the works of Jon Scieszka


Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Svenghouli on MeTV

Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy by Katherine Miles

Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers comics


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Spooky Books: Not Just for Halloween

By , October 25, 2015


If you visit your local library this week and hope to find books about Halloween, chances are you will find many! Below is a list of books that are great for Halloween because they deal with monsters, vampires, and other creepy things, on a kids’ level. Don’t worry! Most aren’t creepy or scary, so most children will be enjoy.

Spooky Books

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace
Oh, to be a ballerina! It’s a challenge for any little girl, but even more so if you happen to be a vampire like Vampirina. First of all, you have to find a class that meets at night. Then you have to figure out how to perfect your form when you can’t see yourself in the mirror? And then there’s wearing pink (not the most flattering of colors if you happen to be undead) and that nagging urge to take a little nip out of the other dancers. And worse of all STAGE FRIGHT!!!

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
BEWARE OF CRANKENSTEIN! Who is Crankenstein? HE IS A MONSTER OF GRUMPINESS THAT NO ONE CAN DESTROY! MEHHRRRR !!! HE’S ALIVE! He may look like any ordinary boy, but when faced with a rainy day, a melting popsicle, or an early bedtime, one little boy transforms into a mumbling, grumbling Crankenstein. When Crankenstein meets his match in a fellow Crankenstein, the results could be catastrophic–or they could be just what he needs to brighten his day!

There’s Something in the Attic by Mercer Mayer (Miss Terri’s Favorite!)
That nightmare in the attic may look and sound scary, but it’s no match for a brave girl with a lasso! Nobody knows better than Mercer Mayer how to turn shivers into smiles, and children no longer need fear things that go bump in the night.

Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer
Little Monster spends a day at work with his father. First he has to dress and choose which tie to wear. Then he must travel with Dad and all the other commuters. At work he eats the cookies at the meeting, colors the graphs his father makes on the computer, goes to the cafeteria for lunch and even stops off for a drink on the way home. Monster thinks his father has it easy at work. Sarah Dyer’s highly entertaining portrayal of a child’s-eye view of the adult world of work is full of wit and charm and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Monster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak
Election season is here and Monster is ready to vote! But why cast your ballot when you can run for president instead? With speeches, debates, and a soapbox or two, Monster’s newest tale is a campaign encouraging kids to take a stand and fight for what they believe in.

Wolves in the Wall by Neil Gaiman (for older children)
There are sneaking, creeping, crumpling noises coming from inside the walls. Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house — and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over. Her family doesn’t believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. But it’s not all over. Instead, Lucy’s battle with the wolves is only just beginning.

Other Great Titles


Have you tried Hoopla yet? You can check out or stream movies, television shows, ebooks, and audiobooks. We have a great selection of Halloween titles – over 40 movies and 20 ebooks. The great thing about Hoopla is, unlike a physical library book that we have a certain number of copies, Hoopla items can be checked out by many people.

- Terri

Imagination and Illustration

By , September 24, 2015

“All you need is your imagination…”  Christopher Myers

This year we are blessed with children’s books by two masters of illustration, Marvin Bileck and Christopher Myers, who provide glimpses into extraordinary, imaginary worlds. Check them out!

A Book 40 Years in the Making

By Trolley Past Thumbledon Bridge 
Illustrated by Marvin Bileck, words by Ashley Bryan and Marvin Bileck

Marvin Bileck illustrated one of my favorite childhood books, Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer. His colorful drawings are flights of visual fancy, filled with tiny characters and scenes that inhabit dream-like worlds. Partner him with Ashley Bryan, a consummate storyteller and poet, and you have a children’s book for the ages.


Blue cloth and story-thread weave together ten poems. An old woman embroiders these stories in a land reached by a bridge a “merry mile long” on a magical trolley, the landscape springing to life around her as she dreams.

The woman is at once a fate, a wind-witch and an old auntie who reels images from her spool and sets the world spinning; drawing out rabbits and baby does, hyenas and antelope. The pictures prance across the page, bits and pieces drawn into sharp focus, as others swirl faintly in the background.

The Story Behind the Story

By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge almost didn’t see the light of day.  The story behind the story is as fascinating as the book itself.

One of Bileck’s little drawings includes a cheeky dig (Who’s afraid of Virgina Woolf?) at the Virginia Woolf Estate.  Woolf’s Estate first commissioned the illustrations for a children’s story, Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, written by Virginia Woolf for her niece, Ann Stephen. The estate dropped the artist after a ten year wait.

Bryan and Bileck preserved these amazing illustrations, creating the text specifically for them. It’s been almost a 40-year process to see it through to publication.

Take Time to Enjoy

This is not a book to read quickly. My grandson and I spent a long time examining each page.  He was fascinated with spinning his own stories from the glorious pictures.

The poetry is great to read-aloud for any age group.  Although for me, the best experience was to share it with a child on my lap, lingering over each word and image.

The last few pages are filled with small drawings and an invitation to weave your own story…

We’ve circled back home

From the start to the end.

I took the first turn

Now it’s your turn, my friend.


 The Power of the Pen

My Pen
by Christopher Myers

This book is for anyone whose heart sings with a pen in hand and a blank piece of paper!

Christopher Myers invites us into his imaginary world where anything is possible…tap dancing on the sky, wearing satellite sneakers with computer laces and putting elephants in teacups. His pen can travel to faraway places, provide thrill rides, play hide and seek, and fully express love and fear.


Inspiring Art With Heart

Myers illustrations are suffused with emotional truth, where sparse pen and ink drawings touch deep chords of love and sadness. Several pictures pay tribute to Myers’ father, beloved children’s author Walter Dean Myers who died last year.

I love so much about this book! The end pages are mostly scribbles & splotches, and that feel achievable for anyone.  Ink get thrown around a lot.  Atmosphere and environment play an important part, as do family and friends. Pens can worry, and  faces can be renewed every morning. However, what I love most is the reminder that there are a million stories contained in every pen.

What wonderful possibilities!

Excuse me….I need a blank piece of paper!


The Children’s Books of Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate

By , September 4, 2015

Poet Laureate for All Ages

Juan Felipe HerreraPoetry is a powerful early literacy tool. It fosters children’s social and emotional development and can help children talk about their feelings in a new way.

According to newly-named U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, “poetry is one of the largest, most beautiful, most intimate and most effective ways of participating in public life.” In this post, I want to introduce you to some of Herrera’s work written specifically for children.



Born in California in 1948, Juan Felipe Herrera is the son of migrant workers. He came to a love of poetry via his parents’ stories and by his participation in his elementary school choir. As the first Latino to be named Poet Laureate, Herrera draws from his life and Mexican American culture, writing in both English and Spanish, sometimes in the same poem.

Family History Through Poetry

Calling the Doves/El canto de las palomas describes Herrera’s life traveling with his family as they moved throughout California as migrant workers. They traveled in an old army truck which his father later converted into a trailer, following the seasons: grape vines in the winter, melon, lettuce and broccoli in the spring.

Their downtime was filled with stories, singing, and poetry. The warmth and love in Herrera’s family is evident in his prose, and the illustrations by Elly Simmons are riotous, with elements of folk art.

Herrera’s beautiful book deservedly won an Ezra Jack Keats award in 1997.


The Upside Down Boy/El niño de cabana picks up where Calling the Doves ends. Juanito- as Herrera is then known- is 8 years old, and his parents have decided it is time that he go to school.

But Juanito is lost in a new language, a new school, and a world far removed from the countryside his family traveled. His teacher, Mrs. Sampson, is gentle and patient, however, and helps Juanito come out of his shell.

The Upside Down Boy, in fact, is dedicated to her, for inspiring Herrera to “believe in his own voice.”





Makerspaces for Kids

By , August 27, 2015

August is National Inventor’s Month. Celebrate by creating a “tinkering” space for your young children. Or bring your teens to one of the library’s great makerspaces, called Studio NPL.

Rachelle Doorley, of Tinkerlab (one of my favorite preschool tinkering sites), describes tinkering as “hands-on experiences, learning from failures, and unstructured time to explore and invent.”

As they tinker, kids work through a trial and error process in which they think about questions, test theories, brainstorm, research, and design. Don’t do it for them. Even if you know how it works, let the kids experiment and figure it out. Later, you can talk with them about what they learned.


Young Inventors Need Space

Setting up a Tinkering Space

If you are going to explore hands-on experiences, you need stuff to explore and tinker with.

For toddlers, take a look at this tinkering space from the blog A Mom with a Lesson Plan, inspired by the book Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Dave Roberts.

For preschoolers, give them access to a wide range of materials. The blog Let the Children Play offers some good suggestions. Check out this tool space at Scholastic, with a worktable, shelves, and lots of jars for hardware. This project gets a little extreme–even mounting a computer on the side. Great idea, but it’s a little too Silicon Valley for my budget.

For those of us with slightly more limited means, a corner in a carport or basement works well, or even a re-purposed kids closet. Keep it simple with measuring tools, cutting tools, drawing tools, woodworking tools, and cans of hardware components along with fasteners, tape and glue.

Invite your family and friends to donate old tools and hardware from their junk drawers to your mini makerspace. Save coffee cans and tin cans for storage (make sure to tape over rough edges). You can also take apart small machines that are no longer working and save the parts for future explorations.


Young Inventors Need Ideas

 Do you need inspiration for things to build?

Check out these art and project websites for kids:


Inspiration for younger children at your library:


For inspiration for teens and youth at your library:


A Young Inventor’s Story

Caine’s Arcade

This clip shows how one boy’s tinkering inspired a community. His concept, Cain’s Arcade, was adopted by the Imagination Foundation, who now sponsors the annual Cardboard Challenge.




Family Folk Tales – The Believing Husbands

By , August 22, 2015

Listen to “The Believing Husbands”
When a man’s wife and her parents collapse in tears over what might have been, he sets off to find three people as silly as they; but will he succeed?

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9 Gen-X / Millennial Childhood Favorites

By , August 7, 2015

I’m right on the cusp of the whole Gen-X / Millennial transition, as are several of my coworkers. We were lamenting the fact that many of our beloved childhood favorites now have unappealing covers!

The following titles are just a few of the books I remember reading and loving as a child. I often recommend them to children and parents. But the cover designs from the 1990’s and 80’s, and sometimes earlier, make them a hard sell to the kids who are used to a more cartoon-like illustration style.

I hope you can peruse this list and find a much-loved treasure to offer a child in your life. In fact, read the story out loud to them (keeping the front covered) until they’re so in love with the book they can’t wait to find out what happens next. They’ll tell all their friends. We’ll start a new trend of retro reads.

Beezus and Ramona cover

Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary

Little House in the Big Woods cover

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Cricket in Times Square cover

The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden

Encyclopedia Brown cover

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol

The Boxcar Children cover

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mixed Up Files cover

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing cover

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume

Best Christmas Pageant cover

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Pippi Longstocking cover

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren

What do you think? Did I miss some of your favorites? Mention them in the comments and maybe we’ll blog about them next time!

- Terri

The Newbery Awards

By , January 19, 2015

Every year, the American Library Association bestows awards on deserving (or not so deserving, depending on your reading preferences) books published the previous year. That makes this a perfect time to recap our favorites! In anticipation of the Newbery Awards (among many many others) being announced February 2, here are some 2014 favorite chapter books from librarians around the system:

Brown Girl Dreaming



By far, the favorite book (and Newbery prediction) of many, including Ms. Elaine, Ms. Tori, Ms. Phyllis and others is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.



At Main, we’re all over the place with our favorites:

Miss Shain loved the Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, by Holly Schindler.

Miss Lindsay loved Rain Reign, too, and also wholeheartedly recommends Revolution, by Deborah Wiles.

Miss Jane’s favorites include My Brother’s Shadow, by Tom Avery and The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea: the Story of Annaliese Easterling & Throckmorton, Her Simply Remarkable Sock Monkey, by Eileen Beha.

Other favorites by librarians around NPL are Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana and Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill.

Phew! There were a lot of great chapter books published in 2014.

What did we miss? What did we get wrong? What did you love?

Booklist: Past, Present, and Future

By , December 15, 2014

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  -George Santayana

There’s no doubt about it, the past can be ugly, but Santayana’s right. And while this is easy enough to say, explaining the ugly to children can be especially tricky.

One ugly example of our country’s history is the sordid tale of race relations – an issue that has stepped into a national spotlight once again.  This is an issue that is a part of our past as well as our present, but we can work together to educate our children in order to move toward a more tolerant future.

Some historical perspective may be helpful in starting important conversations with your kids about present-day conditions. Fortunately, we have books for that:

Revolution, by Deborah WilesRevolution, by Deborah Wiles

Greenville, MS is segregated when the summer of 1964 rolls around, but many believe it’s time for that to end. Just as strong in their beliefs, are those who believe things are fine as they are.  Dubbed Freedom Summer, because volunteers from all over the U.S. were heading south to help black southerners register to vote, this was a time of unrest and change. In Revolution, Wiles weaves actual photos, quotes, and news clippings from this time with the characters’ poignant narratives. This is recommended for fifth through eighth graders.


Glory Be Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood

Another story set in turbulent 1964 Mississippi, this particular tale follows 12-year-old Gloriana whose summers had previously been spent worry-free – pool, library, friends, repeat. When the city pool is suspiciously closed indefinitely “for repairs”, Glory realizes not everyone is fortunate enough to live her trouble-free existence. A great book for those in grades 3-6.



The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis

A book praised as a Newbery Honor book, as well as a Corretta Scott King honor winner, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 follows the lovable Watson family as they travel from Michigan to Birmingham, AL in the summer of 1963. The intention is to deliver their eldest son to the strict matriarch of the family for a summer of tough love; however the Watsons unwittingly descend upon the city at the time of the burning of a Baptist Church that acts as a catalyst for the Civil Rights movement in the American South. This book is recommended for grades 5 and older.


Freedom Summer

 Freedom Summer, by Deborah Wiles

An illustrated book about two friends – one white, one black – in the aftermath of the passage of The Civil Rights Act. Written for kids ages 4-8, this books makes the concept Freedom Summer accessible to all.


These books feature fictional characters living through true events, and may help start important conversations with your family.  They’re engrossing and transport the readers to another time – a time that empathetic readers may recognize as one not incredibly dissimilar to the world they know.

Family Folk Tales: The Wonderful Birch

By , November 15, 2014

The Wonderful Birch – Will the witch’s daughter or her step-daughter live happily ever after in this Cinderella-like tale?

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