December 29, 2010

No Spanish Circle Time

Just a reminder that our weekly Spanish Circle Time will be canceled on Dec. 30 to allow Senora Geiza to take a well-deserved break. She'll return next Thursday, Jan. 6, at 10:30 a.m. for more Spanish songs and rhymes.

Posted by at 08:59 PM

Potential Winners

At this time of year, children's literature lovers play a guessing game as to which books will win the coveted Caldecott and Newbery Medals. The winners will be announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter conference in early January; until then, lots of guessing will take place.

Here's my Scripps Howard News Service column on the potential winners for these major children's literature awards:

It's time for the annual guessing game played by children's literature lovers: Which books will win the coveted Caldecott and Newbery Medals?
Librarians, teachers, parents and other children's book fans try to divine which children's book will be chosen in January as the best-illustrated (Caldecott) or the best-written (Newbery). It's a big deal: Winning the Caldecott or Newbery Medal brings instant fame and fortune.
Suspense will continue to build until the actual award winners are announced Jan. 10 at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. But lots of people are making guesses, often in mock Caldecott and Newbery contests organized by libraries across the country, including the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library System.
In the popular blog called Heavy Medal, the moderators -- California librarians/children's book experts Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt -- annually lead a five-month online discussion of potential Newbery Medal winners. (Find their blog at:
Some years, there are obvious winners. This year, however, there are really no sure bets for either medal.
<">The more I read, and the more I listen to others, I think there could be a lot of surprises this year, said children's book expert Anita Silvey, whose latest project is the online Children's Book-A-Day Almanac (
<">We have for each category, many fine books, but everyone in their best of the year lists seems to disagree about the most outstanding books.
Here -- drawn from various sources -- are some of the best bets for the 2011 Caldecott and Newbery Medal:
Amy Kellman, a Pittsburgh-based children's literature consultant, believes that it is a good year for the Caldecott, adding that she particularly likes 13 Words, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman, and City Dog, Country Frog, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon Muth, as 2011 Caldecott Medal possibilities.
In fact, City Dog, Country Frog appears to be one of the top contenders for the 2011 Caldecott. Art & Max, written and illustrated by David Wiesner, is another likely possibility; if Art & Max is chosen, Wiesner would win an unprecedented fourth Caldecott.
Other potential Caldecott winners include:
- Ballet For Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan and illustrated by Brian Floca.
- A Pocketful of Posies, written and illustrated by Sally Mavor.
- Mama Miti, written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
- Snook Alone, written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering.
- Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange.
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead.
- Chalk, written and illustrated by Bill Thomson.
- Here Comes the Garbage Barge, written by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Red Nose Studio.
Perhaps the most often-mentioned 2011 Newbery possibility is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Other Newbery contenders include a mix of fiction and, in an unusual twist, non-fiction. Although there have been nonfiction Newbery winners, they still are rare.
Even more unusual is the fact that a picture book, City Dog, Country Frog has been touted as a possible Newbery winner (as well as a potential Caldecott winner).
<">It is possible for a picture book to be honored for its text -- it just hasn't happened very frequently, Silvey said.
Interestingly, a book of poetry, Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen, won the mock Newbery contest of the Heavy Medal blog this year.
Another poetry book, Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse, also has attracted attention as a potential Newbery winner.
While poetry books have captured the Newbery in the past - examples include Good Masters, Sweet Ladies in 2008 and Joyful Noise in 1989 - poetry winners remain atypical, however.
Here's a rundown of other potential 2011 Newbery winners:
- The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.
- Keeper by Kathi Appelt.
- They Called Themselves the K.K.K., by Susan Bartoletti.
- Sir Charlie by Sid Fleischman.
- A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz.
- The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter.
- Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
- The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, with illustrations by Peter Sis.
- Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Posted by at 08:34 PM

December 17, 2010

No French Circle Time

There is no French Circle Time on Sat. Dec. 18. Madame Marie is away. French Circle Time will resume on January 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Posted by at 06:11 PM

December 16, 2010

Picture Books Live!

Ever since The New York Times published an article in October suggesting that that picture books were no longer a staple for children, the world of children's literature has been in an uproar. Most children's literature experts disagree with the Times' thesis. Now, the latest Publishers Weekly has an article pulling together all the rebuttals of the Times' article. Here's the link to the full PW article (in which I'm quoted!):Don't Write the Obit For Picture Books Yet

Posted by at 05:30 PM

Winter Solstice On!

Snow won't cancel our annual Winter Solstice celebration will take place tonight! We'll begin at 7 p.m. with Bill Jenkins, a local musician and educator, who will lead us in some fun drumming. Then, around 7:30 p.m., the Foggy Bottom Morris Men will swoop in with their sticks, songs and high spirits. Our program is free and perfect for all ages -- no need to register, just come for all or part of this Takoma Park tradition!

Posted by at 04:07 PM

December 14, 2010

Holiday Books

We have a large selection of holiday books ready to be checked out in the Children's Room! There are books for Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa -- picture books, beginning readers, novels and even craft and cook books. The holiday books are displayed on top of the first bookshelf as you enter the Children's Room. Come check out some great holiday reading!

Posted by at 12:09 PM

December 11, 2010

Holiday Singalong Today!

We are having our 3rd annual Holiday Singalong today at 11:15 a.m. Everyone -- all ages -- is invited to join us as we sing music of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, accompanied by the young students of local music teacher Wendy Lanxner. This is a fun way to celebrate this season of holidays -- plan to join us!

Posted by at 08:08 AM

December 02, 2010

Best Kids' Books

Itís that time of year Ė a time to assess the best childrenís and teen books of the year. Hereís my initial post, drawn from the reviews Iíve written in 2010 in my weekly childrenís book column for Scripps Howard News Service. Iíll also continue to add posts about more books through the end of the year.

__ If you want a board book that's sure to be a hit with your little one, look for ones written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. In her latest board books, Potty and Tubby. One of the best things about Patricelli's books is that adults don't mind reading them repeatedly; with her wry sense of humor, she has the Sesame Street knack for entertaining both kids and adults. In Potty, for example, Patricelli portrays both the baby's exuberance and the parents' relief at a successful trip to the toilet, while in Tubby, she concludes the bathtub scene by writing: Mommy dries me. Daddy dries the bathroom. Don't forget to check out previously published board books by Patricelli, including Quiet Loud, Yummy Yucky, "Binky and Blankie. (Ages 6 months-3).
__ Check out new board-book editions of some classic children's books, all perfect for ages 1-3. There's the marvelous Ten Black Dots by author/illustrator Donald Crews; and the hilarious Sheep books written by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple: Sheep in a Jeep; Sheep Trick or Treat; Sheep out to Eat; Sheep in a Shop; and Sheep on a Ship.

__ With his brilliant new book, Art & Max, author/illustrator David Wiesner has a chance of winning an unprecedented fourth Caldecott Medal. The annual award honors excellence in children's book illustrations. In Art & Max, Wiesner offers a humor-infused, quirky story focused on the friendship between two lizards: a pompous painter named Art and his rowdy friend Max, who wants to try his own hand at art. Things quickly get out of hand as Max takes Art's suggestion -- "You could paint me" -- and proceeds to put his own spin on it by literally plastering his friend with paint. When Max attempts to wash off the colors, Art becomes a mere outline -- a la Harold and the Purple Crayon -- until Max uses his creativity to bring his friend back to vibrant life. (Ages 4 up).
__ Combining a spare text with exquisitely evocative watercolor illustrations, City Dog, Country Frog offers readers a story of a friendship filled with joy, loss and change. The book blends the talents of two Caldecott Honor-winning picture-book creators: author/illustrator Mo Willems, best known for his books Knuffle Bunny and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and Jon Muth, author and illustrator of Zen Shorts. (Ages 4-7)

__ Author/illustrator Mo Willems offers beginning readers ages 4-7 a brilliant new series featuring a cast of characters with simple and silly names: Cat the Cat, Hound the Hound, "Duck the Duck, etc. The books are slightly larger than traditional books for beginning readers and have bold colors and an easy-to-read font. But the best thing about this new series is how funny the stories are. Books in the series so far are: Cat the Cat, Who Is That?; Letís Say Hi to Friends Who Fly!; Whatís Your Sound, Hound the Hound?; and Time To Sleep, Sheep the Sheep.

__ In Countdown, author Deborah Wiles has created a fascinating new type of hybrid book -- a documentary novel. The book is set in 1962, when the Cold War had kids learning to duck and cover under their desks in case of a nuclear attack. But Wiles doesn't just tell her story, she shows it, using a combination of text, photographs and documents (such as a reproduction of a brochure listing the materials needed to build a fallout shelter.) Readers will be glad to know that Countdown is the first in a planned Sixties Trilogy. (Ages 9-12.)

__Rita Williams-Garcia effortlessly blends history and fiction in One Crazy Summer. Williams-Garcia, whose teen novel Jumped was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award, turns her talents to middle-grade readers as she tells the tale of three young sisters who spend a summer in California in the late 1960ís with the mother who abandoned them several years before. While in California, the girls attend a summer camp run by the Black Panthers, getting an inside look at a group that seems very different from what's reported in the news. This book is regarded by many childrenís book experts as a front-runner for the 2011 Newbery Medal, given to the best written childrenís book of the year. (Ages 8-12.)

__ Big Nate: In a Class By Himself, details a day in the life of middle-schooler Nate Wright, an 11-year-old who believes that he is " destined for greatness". Author/illustrator Lincoln Peirce has based this hybrid book (and its sequel, Big Nate Strikes Again) on characters from his popular daily comic strip. Kids will natural enjoy this book, but parents also will get a laugh from this humorously realistic look at the world of middle school. (Ages 8-12.)

__ It's June 1942 and Evelyn, a wealthy and motherless young girl, is forced by her newly remarried father to summer with her bohemian, dilettante Aunt Lia in New York City. Evelyn is desperately unhappy until she meets Tony, whose dad manages the swanky apartment building where Evelyn is staying. In The City of Spies, authors Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan detail how Evelyn and Tony eschew class distinctions as they work together uncovering a Nazi spy ring right in their neighborhood. (Ages 9 up.)

__ Perhaps only Louis Sachar, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Holes, could construct a novel around the game of bridge and make it interesting to teens. But his new book, The Cardturner, features such an engaging set of characters that it actually could spark more teen interest in bridge. Sachar's story revolves around the unlikely friendship that develops between a self-deprecating high-school senior named Alton Richards and his gruff great-uncle Lester, a bridge master who's blind and needs someone to be his "cardturner". As it turns out, Alton himself has a knack for playing bridge, which becomes vitally important when tragedy strikes. (Ages 12 up.)
__ Will Grayson, Will Grayson, featuring alternating chapters written by two stars of the young adult lit world: John Green and David Levithan. Their book follows two main characters -- each named Will Grayson and living in the Chicago area -- as they try to navigate life and love during one crucial high school year. Mr. Green's Will Grayson is straight, and Mr. Levithan's is gay, but the characters' sexuality is only one of many aspects explored in this entertaining, profane and incredibly thought-provoking novel. (Ages 14 up).

Posted by at 03:39 PM

Holiday Music

We've got two great holiday music programs for all ages this month. First, on Saturday Dec. 11 at 11:15, we invite everyone to our 3rd annual Holiday Sing-a-long as we raise our voices in singing songs of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Music will be provided by young students of local music teacher Wendy Lanxner. No registration required.

Then, on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., we'll offer our annual Winter Solstice program. We'll begin with local music educator Bill Jenkins and his awesome collection of drums. At 7:30, the Foggy Bottom Morris Men will swoop in with their dancing and songs to add to the fun. No registration necessary.

Posted by at 11:25 AM

Bedtime Stories

Our December Bedtime Stories will take place on TUESDAY, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. We usually offer it on the first Monday of the month but this month we are having our Holiday Gift-Making program that night. So come on Tuesday, Dec. 7 for songs, stories and rhymes designed to send kids off to Dreamland. This program is perfect for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their grown-ups, and no registration is required.

Posted by at 11:21 AM
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