Friday, July 9, 2021

Picture Book Friday

Charles Ghigna, also known as Father Goose, celebrates wonders large and small in his new charmer LOVE IS EVERYTHING.

From the vastness of a starry sky, to the beauty of a mountain forest, to birds on the wing, Ghigna invites readers to believe in the beauty of nature and the changing of the seasons. His joyful refrain of “I believe,” applies not just to the observable world.  He suggests it is felt inside each of us in wanting to do what’s right.

Belief in goodness and kindness weaves a thoughtful thread throughout from music, art, and poetry to “everything that is good and true.” Each page is a call for unity, reminding readers and listeners of our shared dreams and wishes and that we all need love to get along.

This gentle story is beautifully illustrated in soft colors that perfectly reflect the quietly optimistic tone. The characters' buoyant enthusiasm for life encourages us to remember – Love surrounds us, if only we have the eyes to see and the heart to believe in each other and ourselves. 

Highly recommended for home and school libraries. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Writers Wednesday -- A visit with a new work by Miriam Udel.


In HONEY ON THE PAGE: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature, Miriam Udel has compiled an exemplary collection of Yiddish children’s literature.


Drawing on works from Europe as well as North and South America, she has edited and translated poems and stories from the original Yiddish that offer readers not only the pleasure of the storytelling, but also a glimpse into Jewish history and culture. Udel is clearly a scholar, providing a depth of understanding in her Introduction, Notes to Young Readers and the succinct biographies that precede each author’s story. But don’t imagine for a moment that there is anything dry or stiff in this notable assembly of work. The stories and poems are charming and engaging and beautifully complimented by imaginative illustrations. The tone is delightfully conversational.

 The book is divided into eight thematic areas:

Jewish Holidays,

History and Heroes

Folktales, Fairy Tales, Wonder Tales

Wise Fools

Allegories, Parables, and Fables

School Days

In Life’s Classroom

Jewish Families, Here and There

 In her note TO THE YOUNG READER, Udel explains that her goal was to share stories that were appealing, but also teach readers about different cultures, places, and times. Her work takes the stories a step farther by also identifying shared ideas and experiences that readers would find relatable.

 A comprehensive Introduction provides a thoughtful discussion of Udel’s inspiration and methodology in selecting materials. She also takes care to ground the reader in the historic tradition of Jewish storytelling.

HONEY ON THE PAGE is an excellent resource for family reading because it will appeal to a broad audience from preschool to teenager to adult. Young readers will find enjoyable stories read by grownups.  Independent readers will find an immediate connection to some stories and, as they grow, have the opportunity to develop appreciation for others. Parents and librarians will discover a charming collection of new stories to share. Adults looking to widen their cultural experience or seeking to deepen their understanding of the rich tradition of Yiddish literature will find a well-researched resource here.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Picture Book Friday


Gabby Dawnay and illustrator Alex Barrow have once again teamed up to create a fourth title – If I Had An Octopus –to add to their If I Had A Dinosaur, If I Had A Sleepy Sloth, and If I Had A Unicorn series of picture books.

What would be your perfect pet? That’s the question a little girl must answer.

Dolphins are too grand. Jellyfish are too wobbly. Crabs? Nope too many claws. Our young storyteller wants a clever pet with many charms and lots of arms!

Her perfect pet is…an OCTOPUS!

Vivid colors and lively action with every turn of the page makes the case as the little girl discovers the fun of simultaneously engaging in multiple sports or creating a musical afternoon with a variety of instruments thanks to her eight-legged friend. And, of course, an octopus would be a great asset in the kitchen.

Dawney cleverly incorporates facts about the octopus into the imaginative storyline – octopuses have no bones and fit through tiny openings, they squirt ink when frightened, and they can nearly disappear thanks to their remarkable ability to camouflage themselves – making this story an ideal read for introducing a study of ocean life for young scholars ages 3 and up.

The rhyming text adds another layer of charm for reading aloud.

If I Had An Octopus would be a delightful addition to any picture book collection.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Picture Book Friday


THIS SMALL BLUE DOT, from author and illustrator Zeno Sworder, is a heartwarming story centered around a young girl’s message to her new sibling.

The little girl and the baby are both nameless and always depicted in the gray shades of pencil drawings which give them both an “every child” quality. The young narrator begins her story from the broad cosmic perspective of our solar system by pointing out the small blue dot that every human calls home, followed by our interconnectedness with the natural world. Set against strong primary-color backgrounds and bold, often over-sized crayon illustrations, the girl finds delight in the wonderful variety of life from pears to elephants.

The story takes on a more personal note as she shares some of grandfather’s wisdom about growing up and her joy in being young enough to sing, dance, and celebrate the power of her imagination.

Best of all, she discovers, is the beauty in people’s hearts no matter how different they may be and the truth that we all come from the same beginnings with the possibility to explore, dream, and find your own sense of wonder.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer