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Here Come the Girl Scouts!

by Katherine on March 12th, 2012
Here Come the Girl Scouts! Cover Image

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts in the United States.  A couple of books have just been published to honor the occasion and celebrate the life of founder, Juliette Gordon Low.

One book is the picture book biography geared for K-3 children titled, Here Come the Girl Scouts!  The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure. This book is written by Shana Corey who was inspired by her own mother who was a Girl Scout in Savannah, Georgia, where the movement began.  The author tells about Daisy, a girl with gumption, who wanted to do something meaningful with her life.  Although from a wealthy Savannah family, Daisy was not like other girls who wanted to be prim and proper; she wanted to have adventures, be outside in nature, and see the world.  As a young women she road elephants in India, visited the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and even flew in an early airplane.  Daisy liked to go fishing, boating, and camping.  After meeting Sir Robert Baden-Powell in England, founder of the Boy Scout movement, Daisy returned to Georgia to start the first Girl Scout troop in America and that is the beginning of the organization that now boasts over 3.2 million members.  More than 50 million American women enjoyed Girl Scouting during their childhoods.  Reading this picture book will remind young girls that Daisy believed girls could do anything and she lived a life that proved it.  The delightful illustrations by Hadley Hooper extend the story of the life of an early feminist.  Also included in the back material is further factual information about Daisy, the Girl Scout Promise, and the Girl Scout Law.


Mouse & Lion

by Katherine on March 12th, 2012
Mouse & Lion Cover Image

Rand Burkert has created a new retelling of the famous Aesop fable, along with his mother, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who contributed the exquisite artwork for this beautiful picture book set in Africa near the Botswana and Naminia borders.  Here lions, field mice and baobab trees may be found together under the hot African sun.  The author chose to give the tiny mouse the top billing rather than the king of the jungle, as he explains, “Mouse clearly performs the lion’s share of the work.”  As the familiar tale unfolds, the meticulous illustrations in watercolor extend the fable in scene after naturalistic scene with soft colors that capture each eventful moment.  A trip to Africa provided inspiration for the detailed artwork depicting the flora and fauna of the region.  The artist’s use of perspective creates some stunning images and turning the heavy cream-colored pages is a joy to anyone who appreciated fine book design.  This version of the mouse who saves a lion from the hunters’ net is a picture book that is perfect for storytime and lapsit with the 3-6 year-old crowd. The illustrator also created the artwork for her picture book of The Nightingale (1965) and Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs (1972) along with the original illustrations for Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach (1961).  Welcome back to the world of children’s book illustration, Nancy Ekholm Burkert!

Me … Jane

by Katherine on March 1st, 2012
Me … Jane Cover Image

In this picture book biography, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of a little girl, Jane Goodall, who loves to be outside in nature, playing with her stuffed chimpanzee, Jubilee.  She enjoys climbing trees, watching the miracle of chicken eggs hatching, reading Tarzan of the Apes, and dreaming of one day living in Africa and helping the jungle animals.  The picture book design is really something special.  The endpapers show a graphic African design in earth tones.  The cream-colored pages are made of quality paper and include sketches, childhood photos, McDonnell’s watercolor and ink whimsical illustrations, and vintage print and engraved images of the natural world.  This collage effect engages the reader and youngsters will pour over the charming pages to the conclusion where a color photograph shows the grown-up Jane Goodall extending her hand to a real baby chimpanzee in Tanzania.  Indeed, the message that dreams truly can come true will be a welcomed one for young dreamers.  In the back matter there is additional information about Jane Goodall, primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace.  Websites are included for further information about the work Jane Goodall continues to do in the world.


Pocketful of Posies; A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes

by Katherine on February 29th, 2012
Pocketful of Posies; A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes Cover Image

Salley Mavor has created a fabulous new collection of 65 Mother Goose rhymes with Pocketful of Posies. What makes this volume of nursery rhymes so special is the incredible fabric art creations made by Mavor and then photographed for the book.  Each rhyme has a scene that is stitched, embroidered, and hand-worked using lace, beads, colorful threads, buttons, shells, and other objects.  Every page is a true work of art.  The people have what look like wooden ball painted faces and as someone who also enjoys working with fabrics such as felt and embellishments, I simple can’t imagine how much time each scene took to create.  Clearly, her artwork is a labor of love.  At the Rhode Island School of Design, Mavor rediscovered the passion she had as a child for sewing and mixed media and was encouraged to communicate her designs and ideas in her own unique way.  To see what playing with a needle and thread can lead to, just pour over the pages of these familiar traditional rhymes with a young child.  A few nursery rhymes are less well-known, but all of them are short and conducive to reading aloud with a child in your lap.  It is so important for preliteracy skills to incorporate Mother Goose rhymes into early childhood education at home and in the schools; this collection is ideal to share and would make an excellent gift for families with children from babies to six-year-olds.  Reacquaint yourself with Simple Simon, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, Jack Sprat, Margery Daw, Little Miss Muffet, The Queen of Hearts, Little Boy Blue, Old King Cole, Humpty Dumpty, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Bo-Peep and others by enjoying them with a little boy or girl soon.  This is the collection of Mother Goose rhymes that I would recommend to check out at the Iowa City Public Library and then purchase a copy as a gift to be handed down through the generations.

Won Ton; A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

by Katherine on February 27th, 2012
Won Ton; A Cat Tale Told in Haiku Cover Image

One of my favorite books published in 2011 is this picture book written in senryu (a form of Japanese poetry with seventeen syllables focusing on the foibles of human nature–or in this case, cat nature) by Lee Wardlaw.  The story of a shelter house cat whose cynical veneer hides his own true vulnerability, is taken home by a boy who calls him Won Ton.  “Won Ton?  How can I/ be soup?  Some day I’ll tell you/My real name.  Maybe.”  As the cat and boy grow to trust each other, Won Ton reveals his real name:  “Boy, it’s time you knew:/My name is Haiku.”  The illustrator, Eugene Yelchin, uses graphite and gouache to depict the angular blue-point Siamese cat and elements of Japanese woodblock prints are incorporated into the artwork for a seamless whole.  As the new pet explores his environment, his bowl of food, the backyard, his new toy, the owner’s toes, he lets the boy know he’s ultimately happy to have found a home, but he’s still the boss!  For all cat lovers and poetry lovers, this delightful picture book will be enjoyed for its wonderful humor by all ages.



A Ball for Daisy

by Katherine on February 22nd, 2012
A Ball for Daisy Cover Image

The 2012 Caldecott Medal winner is A Ball for Daisy illustrated by Chris Raschka who won this prestigious award back in 2006 for The Hello, Goodbye Window written by Norton Juster.  The Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the best children’s book honored for its artwork and published in the United States in the preceding year by a committee selected by the American Library Association.  This year’s winner is a wordless book and will appeal to toddlers and preschoolers for its deceptively simple story line and watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations.  The picture book opens with a small dog playing with his red ball, sleeping on the couch with his ball, and then going to the park with his owner who is revealed later as a little girl in a yellow polka dot dress.  The ball is taken away by a brown poodle who bites the ball and destroys it.  Daisy is of course devastated and Rashcka’s illustrations depict all the emotions associated with losing something of value–anger, sadness, frustration, and disappointment.  The image of the little girl petting her dog on the bright green striped couch to comfort Daisy is very tender.  The story ends with the owner of the poodle, a little girl in a green and turquoise striped dress, bringing a blue ball to the park and watching Daisy and her dog in play. The two girls later wave a friendly goodbye as Daisy is seen going back home with the new ball and cuddling up with it on her sofa. This is a delightful story to lapsit with your young child and one that can be “read” again and again.  Congratulations, Chris Raschka!

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

by Katherine on November 7th, 2011
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories Cover Image

This collection of seven stories by Dr. Seuss has been created thanks to the research of Charles D. Cohen, the world’s foremost Seuss scholar and collector of all things Seuss.  He writes the introduction to this volume and describes how the stories were originally published in magazines and largely forgotten.  Cohen tracked down these gems and they are now available for children everywhere to enjoy.  Had Dr. Seuss created more illustrations for each story we might have had seven more picture books by the good doctor himself.  Alas, we can be grateful for this wonderful recreation of such stories as “The Bippolo Seed” about a young duck named McKluck who finds a rare box with a magic seed inside that will grant whatever one wishes.  Or “The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga,” a story about a rabbit that saves himself from a bear because of an eyelash featuring Seuss’ quirky humor that everyone loves.  Originally published in Redbook, “Gustav the Goldfish” is about a goldfish that gets fed too much and grows progressively larger creating all sorts of havoc.  The next story, “Tadd and Todd,” about twins, a topic that Dr. Seuss delighted in illustrating, demonstrates Ted Geisel’s craftsmanship and mastery of rhythm and rhyme.  The bizarre bestiary that the noted author is famous for can be found in the story, “Steak for Supper.”  His invented creatures with their zany made-up names will continue to delight new readers today.  And remember the bathtub ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? Well in “The Strange Shirt Spot,” Dr. Seuss expanded the idea to create a tale of a strange and stubborn stain that is difficult to eliminate.  The final story in The Bippolo Seed is “The Great Henry McBride,” published in Redbook magazine in 1951.   Here Dr. Seuss wrote a story of a young boy, Henry, with a wild imagination who fantasizes about what kind of career he wants to pursue.  Ted Geisel, truly a child at heart, for the rest of his own career focused on the way words sounded in helping children learn to read.  Rediscover these old treasures with your children today.  They are every bit as funny and enjoyable as other books by the great master….

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

by Katherine on August 9th, 2011
Junonia by Kevin Henkes Cover Image

Alice and her parents spend a week in February every year at a beach cottage on Sanibel Island, Florida, where they celebrate her birthday.  This year Alice turns ten and is excited about seeing all the familiar people in the nearby cabins, what kind of party she will have, and if this will be the year she finally finds a rare junonia shell on the beach.  However, some of the usual visitors to the island can’t come and one nearby cottage becomes the retreat for a friend of Alice’s mother, Kate, her boyfriend, Ted, and his six-year-old daughter, Mallory.  Alice is a bit jealous of the attention given to younger girl who is having her own issues and acting like a brat and spoiling all the fun.  Henkes writes quiet, introspective novels for kids, and this book is no exception.  However, I’ve been to Sanibel Island and collected shells there so the setting was wonderfully familiar to me.  The author, who is best known for his delightful picture books, drew illustrations of some Florida shells along with their names and that is a nice addition.  And 3-5 grade readers will relate to Alice who is an only child wanting things to stay the same….


One Summer by David Baldacci

by Katherine on August 9th, 2011
One Summer by David Baldacci Cover Image

Okay, I confess, I’ve never read a book by David Baldacci before but I know he is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of thrillers.  I was looking for a typical adult summer read (the kind of book I imagine reading on the beach) and One Summer sounded like something I’d like.  I did, but then again, I cry easily when it comes to Hallmark commercials, sad stories, or touching scenes in movies or theater.  In this novel, Jack is terminally ill and hopes to make it to see one more Christmas with his beloved wife, Lizzie, and their three kids.  However, his wife is killed in a car accident a few days before Christmas and the children are split up to go to live with other relatives.  Talk about tragic!  And then a miracle happens and Jack’s disease seems to have disappeared, confounding the doctors.  Months later, when he is back on his feet, he decides to move from Cleveland to Lizzie’s childhood home on the beach of South Carolina.  He gets his three children back and tries to bring some sense of normalcy to his family.  But things don’t go smoothly for the grieving family and it’s up to Jack to get his act together as a parent.  Lizzie did the lion’s share of parenting because Jack was in Iraq and Afghanistan in the military for several years.  He receives help from his eldest daughter, Mikki, a lovely restaurant owner, Jenna, and his best military buddy, Sammy.   The lighthouse on the beach property has special significance for Jack and that part of the storytelling is especially well drawn.   So if you can’t read this title on the beach, pull up your lawn chair and enjoy a good story about love and redemption.  A lot of the story involves the teenage daughter so I think Young Adults would also like this book.

Small Acts of Amazing Courage

by Katherine on August 9th, 2011
Small Acts of Amazing Courage Cover Image

Written by National Book Award winner Gloria Whelan, (for Homeless Bird),  this story takes place in 1918 when Gandi is leading a movement for India’s independence from England.  15-year-old Rosalind has been used to roaming the streets and going to the bazaar in her small town in India until her father returns from the war and realizes that his wife has been too lenient with their daughter.  When Rosalind hears Gandi speak on non-violence and against colonial rule, she begins thinking on her own in agreement with the famous leader that India should indeed rule itself.  Then she buys an orphaned boy from a beggar rather than let the toddler be abused; and when discovered, her father sends her back to England for a “proper education.”  Aunt Ethel and Aunt Louise are clearly not prepared for such an independent niece under their roof, but the kinder aunt befriends Rosalind and matures as a woman herself when she leaves her domineering sister and returns to India with Rosalind.  The setting and sentiments described in the book are fascinating to read about and 5-8 graders will find much to like in the rebellious attitude of the protagonist.  A big fan of historical fiction and Gloria Whelan’s other books, I’d definitely recommend Small Acts of Amazing Courage.

About Katherine

Where would you find me in the Library:
In the Children's Room
Interesting facts:
Hobbies: gourmet cooking and baking, shopping for antiques, reading, watching tennis on TV, photography, traveling.
I got my Master's Degree in Library Science from the University of Missouri in 1974 and have worked as a Children's Librarian in Illinois and Wisconsin as well as over 20 years at ICPL.
I live in Coralville with my husband, Wes, who works at ACT and plays clarinet in various bands. Our son, Brent, is in the Army JAG Corps and is currently stationed at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Our daughter, Kelly, is an environmentalist in Corvallis, Oregon.
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