Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking Back on 2015 and Ahead to 2016

The Giant Harry Potter Cardboard Maze.
Photo courtesy of Will Forrester.


2015 was an incredibly busy year. I got married, went from part-time, to full-time, designed and built a giant cardboard maze, and we even bought a house! I was also serving on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee and spent the last few months knee deep in notes and books prepping for intense book discussions at ALA Midwinter. It was a lot of hard work, but I am very proud of the winner and three honor books chosen our committee. 

I'll admit it, I didn't get as much blogging done as I would have liked. So instead of trying to catch up on my November and December round-ups, and because there are more great books published each year than I could ever hope to read, I give you a round-up of best/notable/fabulous book lists of 2015. 

ALSC's Notable Children's Book 2016 List
A great list of books for kids (0-14 years old). The list is divided into books for younger, middle, and older readers with nonfiction and fiction mixed together. 

Denver Public Library's 2015 Best & Brightest Book List - Every year a group of Denver Public Library librarians gets together to create our Best & Brightest Children's Book List. Divided into categories, this annotated list includes our favorite children's books for babies through middle schoolers published in 2015. It is our hope that there's something on this list for every child. We strive to make a list that reflects the wonderful diversity of the City of Denver. I have personally contributed titles to this list. 

Notable Books for a Global Society 2016 List
Each year The Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association chooses 25 books for preK through 12th grade that reflect and celebrate diversity. 

School Library Journal's Best of 2015
Categories include books for babies through teens, as well as apps, audiobooks, and DVDs. 

We Need Diverse Books End of the Year Booklists
Divided by age range and presented in eye-catching flowcharts, these lists provide a variety of excellent and diverse recommendations for young readers. 


As I look at my work-life-blog balance, I realize that I will have less time to blog in 2016. I still plan on posting a round-up at the end of each month, but the reviews will probably be much shorter. More keywords (to help me when I'm doing reader's advisory on the fly) and less hyperlinks. I hope you'll still continue to stop by and that you'll find this blog helpful. 

*A duplicate of this post can also be found on my other blog: ChapterBookExplorer.Blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Program-a-Rama at ALA Midwinter 2016

Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr: 
Last weekend at ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston the second Program-a-Rama session was held. Formerly known as Program-a-Looza (but changed to rhyme better), this grassroots session was created as a way for children's library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

After introductions, each person shared a favorite cheap, easy, and successful program. Next, we did some group brainstorming on programming topics using pens and sticky notes. Finally, we spent a few minutes discussing programming challenges and possible solutions.

This session was lead by Danielle Jones (Multnomah County Library) and myself (Denver Public Library) and we look forward to hosting another session at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando.

Wondering what we talked about? Check out the Program-a-Rama Notes.

Want more programming ideas? Take a look at my posts about last year's Program-a-Looza, as well as a the notes from a recent passive programming brainstorming session.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

September Round-Up

Image from Amazon.com
Friends by Helme Heine
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Originally published in German, this is the story of Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and fat Percy Pig who are the very best of friends. Sundrenched and bright illustrations follow their adventures around the countryside. Simple, narrative text and large illustrations make this a great pick for a preschool storytime.

Image from HarperCollins.com
Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins, 2015
If the conditions are just right, “an imaginary friend might appear just when you need one.” In this case, his name was Fred. Imaginary friends usually fade when their real life friends cease to need them, but something different happened when Fred met another imaginary friend. Her name was Frieda. This magical and whimsical story is illustrated in ink with deftly placed spots of color. The longer text and more complex story make this book a wonderful choice for elementary school aged readers.

Image from SLJ.com
Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann
NorthSouth, 2015
Originally published in Switzerland, this mostly wordless picture book is a meditation on the environmental effects of single-minded progress. Moletown begins as a simple tunnel under a lush, green meadow, but the years pass and the moles expand and build. By the end of the book the lush green meadow is nothing but a dingy clump of grass. Don’t miss the detailed endpapers. Read this book with older kids (3rd grade+) along with John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s The Rabbits to start a discussion on the impact of humans on the environment.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books, 2015
Look at the pictures to find the clues to figure out “who done it?” The long trim size of this book allows for two rows of suspects, rendered in pencil and acrylic paint, on each two page spread. Can you guess who forgot their swimsuit? Who didn’t get enough sleep? Who ate all the jam? The final page of the book provides the answers.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Brainstorming - CALCON 2015

Recently, Kahla Gubanich, Warren Shanks and I presented at CALCON 2015. Our session was called Hands Off!: Passive Programming for Children. During the session we asked participants to help us brainstorm ideas for a passive Halloween program for children. They came up with some super rad ideas compiled in this Google Doc. You can also take a look at our Prezi.

Many thanks,

Friday, October 2, 2015

August Round-Up

Image from EricRohmann.com
Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press, 2005
At night, Clara tries to go to bed, but she’s just not sleepy. Luckily, she opens her window and in floats Asha a giant striped fish. These two friends have many adventures together. Adventures that are only limited by their imaginations. The simple text is expanded in the fantastical painterly illustrations. The preschoolers I read this book to really enjoyed talking about the details in the pictures. They especially loved the last page and we had a great discussion about other animals that might be Clara’s friends.

Image from RandomHouse.com
Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook, Illustrated by Andy Robert Davies
Charlesbridge, 2012
This guessing game book provides visual and textual clues for jobs from mail carrier to farmer, chef to astronaut. The rhyming text is bouncy and printed in a large, bold font. The illustrations are bright and colorful against a white background. Characters of both genders and various skin colors are included. This is a wonderful choice for a preschool storytime about jobs.

Image from Books.SimonandSchuster.com
Lily and Bear by Lisa Stubbs
Simon & Schuster, 2015
Lily loves to draw and draw and draw. She draws many wonderful things - teapots, hearts, house, and cats - but her best creation is Bear. Bear comes alive and he and Lily have many grand adventures. This story of friendship and imagination features vibrant mixed media illustrations that utilize texture and patterns. The sentences are short, but filled with lovely vocabulary words. Read this book in a preschool storytime and follow it with an ECRR parent tip about how drawing and scribbling prepare children to write.

Image from CiaraFlood.co.uk
Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood
Little Bee Books, 2015
Bear lives in a remote cottage in the woods and all he wants is to be left alone. So he’s more than a little annoyed when a bunch of very friendly rabbits build a house right next door. He’s even more annoyed when they knock on his door. What’s a bear to do? The bright illustrations contrast soft and round animals with the straight lines of houses and trees. In addition, light and shadow provide depth and atmosphere. The text is short, but descriptive, making this a great book for a friendship or kindness themed preschool storytime. -Amy