Talkin’ Turkey

What do you call it when it rains turkeys?  Fowl Weather (of course!)

Most times, these ungainly strutting birds get no respect, not even as dinner’s main course. Take the Butterball Turkey Helpline—most new cooks are baffled by such a huge rotund bird for which large roasting pans and big ovens are required—as their many questions, often hilariously recounted, are answered.

The grocery stores begin to pile their freezer bins full of these denuded and rock solid turkeys as the holiday months loom ever closer. The frozen turkey is just another ornament, albeit an enormous one, to check off the list.

Luckily, in the world of children’s literature, the turkeys in picture book stories are still fully feathered and feisty creatures. A hilarious new book written and illustrated by Dennis Cazet, Bob and Tom, follows the barnyard adventures of two rather dim turkeys, who spend their days in often cavalier manner, seeking answers. One of their musings leads them to sit in the lake using the farmer’s wife’s polka dot swim suit as a flotation device. Or consider Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark and Rowan Sommerset, which features a crafty sheep, tricking a turkey into eating poo or as Sheep calls it, “smarty tablets.” Continue reading “Talkin’ Turkey”

Gene Luen Yang: National Storyteller

If we were to conjure a favorite high school teacher, one who’s smart, funny, innovative, caring, honest, and ever so talented, Gene Luen Yang would fit to a T. So personable a speaker, he can reach you through his website videos. Most writers share their deepest thoughts and ideas through their books, but to also be able to speak eloquently and touch audiences of children, teens or adults, well, Gene is in a rock star category all his own. As an award-winning cartoonist, author, and the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he is proudly a teacher first. His inspiration as a writer is firmly rooted in his 17 year teaching experience as a high school computer science teacher. About that, he declares, “…honestly, I miss it. I miss my students, and my co-workers. I miss having to put on pants to go to work.” A very funny guy to boot. Continue reading “Gene Luen Yang: National Storyteller”

Children’s Literature Saves Lives

After the raucousness of politics last fall, I overheard a woman say that she had been binge watching Hallmark Channel love stories. I could certainly relate as I retreated for weeks on end to exclusively reading children’s fiction, where issues are surmountable and endings often good. Truth be told, the writing and illustrating for children these days is beyond excellent and can be enjoyed on its own merits no matter what disturbs our worlds.

child-lit-conference Continue reading “Children’s Literature Saves Lives”

Summer Time When the Reading is “Natural”

chi_sol_banner_575When Children’s and Teen Librarians visit schools before summer vacation begins, we are often armed with a plethora of “good reads” and entice the kids to come to their local branch to check them out.

The Summer of Learning program this year proclaims “Astounding Tales of Nature!”  The “oohs and ahs” that came from the kids I visited in some schools were most audible when I showed them true stories of amazing animals.  This included Courageous Canine! And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Heroes by Kelly Milner Halls. The story she wrote of Lilly, the companion Pit Bull, who lost its leg trying to save her human friend, brought some to tears. The eye-popping photos in the book, Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating showcases unimaginably pink creatures of the natural world like the naked mole rat and pygmy seahorses. Another book that garnered rapt attention was Out of the Woods:  A True Story of Unforgettable Events by Rebecca Bond. The unbelievable phenomenon of humans and animals standing together in a lake as a wildfire raged before them was enough to quiet even the most raucous crowd. Other books of keen interest include Orangutan Orphanage by Suzi Esterhas, Weird Birds by Chris Earley and The Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle. Continue reading “Summer Time When the Reading is “Natural””

Read Globally in 2016

-posted by Diane C.

Global Reading Challenge 2016 Banner







For the Global Reading Challenge–the acclaimed reading program done in partnership with many Seattle Public Schools’ fourth & fifth graders–the selection of ten titles each year is the most sacred of undertakings. There is a fine balance that needs to be considered for kids’ interest, readability, and multicultural subject matter. Every year, when the titles are revealed with much fanfare in the schools, the enthusiasm is the same: “Great books!” the teachers and librarians and kids exclaim. Continue reading “Read Globally in 2016”