Monday, May 23, 2016

Families From Many Lands: Books for Asian American & Pacific Islander Month

Since 1992, communities across the United States have celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Month (which started as a week-long celebration in 1979). To highlight the diversity of the region, let's take a look at some outstanding children's books that feature characters with Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage:



While there are many books and movies about Ellis Island, there is definitely a lack of awareness about its counterpoint in California. Throughout the 20th century, Angel Island served as the entry point for 1 million Asian immigrants, mostly from China. Immigrants that arrived at Angel Island were often kept for several weeks or even months (unlike the immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island, who were largely detained for only a few hours while they underwent medical examinations). During their time on Angel Island, immigrants expressed their hopes and fears through letters, diaries, poems, and wall drawings that were discovered after the facility closed in 1940. Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain is an eye-opening and incredible read about a little-known aspect of U.S. immigration history, written by a master of children's nonfiction.



Learning about everyday customs, such as food, schooling, and marriage customs are often fascinating to children (and adults!). Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding is a darling and appealing look at a Chinese wedding ceremony, through the eyes of Uncle Peter's niece.



Wendy Wan-Long Shang's The Great Wall of Lucy Wu features an all-too believable and common conflict between American-born children and their immigrant elders. Lucy is much more interested in basketball than Saturday Chinese classes, and is not thrilled to be sharing her room with her great-aunt, who is visiting from China for several months. Along the way, Lucy learns to appreciate her great-aunt and her Chinese heritage, although never in a way that is preachy or condescending.




Laurence Yep has written about Chinese heritage and history for decades, when the American children's literature world had very few authors of Asian descent writing stories. The Star Fisher and its sequel, Dream Soul are my favorite Yep titles. Joan is finding it difficult to fit into her 1920s West Virginia community. The Lees are the first Chinese family in the community, and are met with suspicion and ignorance. Luckily, there are pockets of kindness that help ease the transition, and the universal conflict between immigrant children and their parents is authentic. Dream Soul continues the Lee's story, with Joan eager to celebrate Christmas, even though her family does not.




Fans of myths and legends definitely need to read The Shark King, which is based upon a Hawaiian legend of a boy who's half-human and half-shark. Nanaue's attempts to assimilate into a village of people is an unusual and memorable read.



Luka and her grandmother, Tutu, are best friends. Luka wants a bright and multi-colored quilt, but traditional Hawaiian quilting demands that no more than two colors may be used. Luka is upset, Tutu is hurt, but through imagination, conflict resolution, and understanding, differences are smoothed over by Lei Day. The bright collage artwork in Luka's Quilt is striking, with an appealing story that all can relate to.





Baseball is a very popular sport in Japan, as evidenced by Take Me Out to the Yakyu. A Japanese-American boy enjoys going to games with his American grandfather and his Japanese grandfather; through his explanations of the similarities and differences of the games in both countries, readers enjoy an entertaining cross-cultural experience.



Allen Say is a long-established Japanese-American children's author; although I adore all of his stories, The Favorite Daughter is my #1 pick. Say draws upon personal experience for his stories; his daughter's struggle with accepting and honoring her biracial heritage is among his most personal. Yuriko is teased for her Japanese name and her striking looks (she has blonde hair and Japanese facial features). When Yuriko wants to change her name to something more "American," her dad's gentle guidance allows her to embrace both her Japanese and American heritage. The book ends with a picture of Allen's daughter in a kimono and visiting Japan for the first time in her twenties; readers' heartstrings will be pulled for both Yuriko and her father during this difficult but ultimate successful time.



 The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is a dark and tragic time in our country's history. Prejudice and hostility toward Japanese-Americans boiled over when Pearl Harbor was bombed; the living conditions that Mitsi must endure in the internment camps is chaotic, confusing, and humiliating. Missing her friends and her beloved dog, Dash, makes it hard to bear; only the resiliency and dignity of the families makes life bearable. Dash is a must-read for fans of World War II era fiction.


With the publication of her second book, The Land of Forgotten Girls, Erin Entrada Kelly is establishing herself as a much-needed author of stories centered on Filipino-American children. Blackbird Fly, published in 2015, follows eighth grader Apple as she deals with school bullies and plays the guitar. Like many middle school stories, a major plot point involves separating from former friends and finding friends who share your newly found interests and passions; Apple faces the same dilemmas as she discovers two new friends who share her love of music (especially the Beatles). Recommended for fans of coming-of-age stories, but not quite ready for YA.




Inside Out and  Back Again (2011 National Book Award winner and 2012 Newbery Honor recipient) is undoubtedly reminiscent of the many struggles young Vietnamese immigrants faced when they arrived in the States during and after the Vietnam War. When Ha's family is released from a refugee camp, they end up in Alabama, where Ha faces enormous challenges with learning English and dealing with racist classmates. Ultimately, Ha's resolve and strength sees her through these difficulties; this novel-in-verse is an extraordinary read. Thanhha Lai's follow up, Listen, Slowly, is another superb tale (reviewed in March 2016).




Whenever I order new holiday books, I look for books that feature something unique about the holiday.  Duck for Turkey Day is one of my favorite Thanksgiving stories for that reason. Although Tuyet's Vietnamese family celebrates Thanksgiving, as do many immigrant families, they serve duck instead of turkey for their feast. Tuyet is quite uncomfortable with that fact, and dreads talking about the day during class discussions. She is surprised to find that having a non-turkey Thanksgiving is actually not that unusual in her class; one family enjoyed lamb, another enchiladas, while another served tofu turkey! Teachers looking for a worthwhile story to read for Thanksgiving should definitely consider this, as it might prompt an intriguing discussion and learning time.

I blogged about "Robot Reads" for ALSC this month; take a look for some techie tales for young readers.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library




Monday, May 16, 2016

Libros Para Ninos: It's Latino Books Month!

I do love a month-long celebration of books, which is why I've been brainstorming titles to promote for Latino Books Month!  With the We Need Diverse Books grassroots campaign getting stronger and more visible every day, the importance of publishing, reading, critically reviewing, and promoting books that reflect the diversity of this world is gaining more attention. I whittled this list down substantially (I focused on Latino books by Latino/Latina authors); while these are my top favorites, I have many more that I could have included!



Margarita Engle's novels in verse should be your first picks for memorable and eye-opening Latino literature for youth; her novels have brought to life Cuban musicians, artists, and fighters for independence. Enchanted Air is her most recent and personal creation, as it chronicles her young adulthood in Los Angeles during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is a welcome addition to historical literature for youth for capturing the experience of a young Latina during an incredibly charged and frightful time with her ancestral homeland, but also for its Los Angeles setting, which is not often explored in historical literature (compared to other cities of similar size). See my December review for a fuller review of this knockout read. Engle's Mountain Dog is also a fantastic read.






When it comes to children's historical fiction set in the American West, Esperanza Rising is inarguably one of the most engrossing and moving stories you will find. Set in California during the Great Depression, this portrayal of a young Mexican-American girl who bravely faces the upheaval in her life is one of my standard recommendations for historical fiction assignments. Ryan's most recent novel, Echo, is one of the 2016 Newbery Honor titles (and includes a Latino character forced to attend a segregated school in California).



YA dystopia is not really my thing. I've read enough that I can give several honest and positive recommendations for fans, but it's something that I admittedly have to make myself read. Now that the popularity of this genre has cooled considerably, I mostly only pick up a dystopian novel if it offers something unique, such as a main character from a minority community. I'm also not keen on reading a book in one sitting, but that's exactly what I did when I popped The Living (also set in California) into my bag to take home. This is one of the most intense and gripping reads I have read in some time. Check out my April 2014 review if you're interested in more details. (I'm currently reading Bluescreen, which I would definitely recommend for fans of futuristic YA novels; a Latina teenager is the main character. It's also set in California--Los Angeles, to be exact!).





When granddaughter Lucy feels under the weather (chicken pox), Mama Provi cooks up her famous arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) to provide delicious nourishment. While climbing the stairs to Lucy's apartment, Mama Provi encounters her neighbors (from different cultures and ethnicities), who contribute to the meal, providing a hearty and multicultural feast for Lucy.  Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice is one of those great picture books that can be enjoyed by kindergartners as well as third graders, showing that picture books shouldn't be abandoned after kindergarten!



I read Maria Had a Little Llama for a recent "stories in rhyme/Mother Goose" story time in honor of National Poetry Month and Mother Goose Day (May 1). Set in Peru, this is an adorable adaptation of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and received an Illustrator Honor citation from the 2014 Pura Belpre Award committee.




Nino is a brave lucha libre wrestler, but can he fend off freshly-napped little sisters? Nino Wrestles the World is a funny, realistic, and charming siblings story. Lucha libre is a very popular wrestling style in Mexico in which the wrestlers wear masks; we've added quite a few lucha libre-themed stories to our collection in recent years.



Sonia Manzano recently retired from Sesame Street; hopefully, she'll write more children's/YA books in her television retirement!  Set in 1969's Spanish Harlem, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano is a sensitive and powerful coming of age story story centered on a fourteen year old Puerto Rican-American girl whose family is torn between both sides of the Puerto Rican/Latino activist movement of that time.



Gary Soto's books are must reads for any collection offering Latino books for children; Too Many Tamales, set during Christmas, is a heartwarming and gorgeously illustrated tale about truth-telling and family love. Share this with your lower elementary grade students!




Cross-cultural books (like Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice) are one of my beloved genres; you can't get much more universal than the drama of losing a tooth (or food). While the Tooth Fairy visits children in the United States, El Raton Perez (a mouse) takes the teeth of children in Mexico. Both visit Mexican-American Miguel when he places his tooth under his pillow; who will take the tooth and get the glory? The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez is funny, festive, and a sweet story of multiculturalism and cooperation. Pair this with Throw Your Tooth on the Roof for an around-the-world study of lost teeth customs.



Fans of YA coming-of-age stories should not miss Under the Mesquite, which follows a teen poet as she comes to term with her mother's cancer diagnosis and the hardships that follow. Guadalupe Garcia McCall's upcoming book is a Romeo and Juliet story set during the Mexican War for Independence along the Texas border; cannot wait!



Finally, What Can You Do With a Paleta/What Can You Do With a Rebozo? celebrate everyday life with family and neighbors in a Mexican barrio (neighborhood). Children explore the many fun and creative things you can do with a paleta (popsicle) or a rebozo (scarf). I've had great success reading both books to preschool groups.

Until next Monday--happy reading!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library







Monday, May 09, 2016

Bayous, Bays, and Hurricanes : Books for American Wetlands Month


When looking over the list of observance for May, I was super pumped to see that May is American Wetlands Month. As a Louisiana native, wetlands preservation has been on my conscience since I was young (wetlands are natural protectors against hurricanes; they drag down the speed and intensity of storms before they hit populated areas, and the Gulf Coast has been losing them at an alarming rate for some time).  The Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia is not only an important ecosystem, but it also served as a refuge for slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The Chesapeake Bay is also an extremely important wetland in our area, with preservation and revitalization being a long-standing concern. Let's look at stories and illuminating nonfiction reads that educate and entertain young readers and listeners about these special ecosystems:



Babies in the Bayou is rich in illustration and sparse in text (although vivid), which makes it perfect for sharing with toddlers as well as preschoolers. We observe a mama alligator as she protects her baby from the other animals in the bayou. The illustrations feature predator-prey relationships on each page, which you can either comment on or ignore. Arnosky includes a brief note about the pronunciation of bayou: if you live in/are from Louisiana, you will say bye-yoo, but if you are from other states in the Gulf Coast region (he specifies Texas, which is definitely my experience as well), you will probably say bye-oh. (If you're rhyming it with "blue," as Roy Orbison and and Joe Melson did in "Blue Bayou,", you will use the Louisiana version.  If you're rhyming it with "gumbo" and "me oh my oh,"  as Hank Williams Sr. and Moon Mullican did in "Jambalaya (On the Bayou), you'll use the Texas version, even though the tune was taken from a Cajun song and is practically the unofficial state song of Louisiana. (Both Orbison and Mullican were native Texans, to boot!)



Carl Hiaasen is known for his chapter books set in Florida; most have an environmental theme running through the story. Chomp features the host of a reality show set in the Everglades (think Steve Irwin) who goes missing after a torrential rainstorm.



A Frog in the Bog has been one of my favorite read alouds since I first became a youth services librarian nearly twelve years ago. The rapidly growing frog seems to be quite content on his log in the bog....or is it really a log? This is also a great read aloud that incorporates counting.


Need a bright and engaging book for a seasonal (spring to autumn) story time? Denise Fleming's In the Small, Small Pond should be on your list. This is an exploration of animals that frequent a small pond throughout the year; I've used Fleming's books with infants and toddlers; they are drawn to the bright, large, bold, and clear illustrations.


Life in an Estuary: The Chesapeake Bay is a comprehensive and eye-opening look at the many animals and plants that call the Chesapeake Bay home.


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Mama Don't Allow is one of the most rollicking and rhythmic read alouds you might ever experience. Miles and his Swamp Band have a romping good time making music with the alligators....until they discover that the alligators intend for them to be very special guests of honor at their dinner!




If you're more interested in facts rather than fanciful stories set in wetlands, Marshes and Swamps: A Wetland Way of Life or Wetlands (part of the True Book series, which is aimed at 3rd-5th graders) should be perfect for you.

For more information:

The Great Dismal Swamp
Chesapeake Bay Program
Everglades National Park
Audubon Nature Institute's Hurricane on the Bayou teacher resource guide, which includes activities for classroom investigation.
National Geographic: Bayous

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 








Monday, May 02, 2016

Celebrate, Remember, And Read!

For blog posts, display ideas, and story time themes, I often consult the Brownie Locks website. Each month is packed with authentic monthly, weekly, and daily celebrations. When I looked at the listings for the first week of May, I noted so many special days and events that I wanted to include that I couldn't pick just one. We just have so many awesome books that are perfect for these occasions. So celebrate one, celebrate some, or celebrate all! Here are some don't-miss books for all sorts of observances for the first week of May:



Batman Day (May 1: the first day Batman made his comic book debut in 1939): I haven't yet read Batman's Dark Secret; every time I look for it on the new books shelf, it's checked out! Picture books and easy readers for young superheroes fans are always in high demand, so it's not a surprise that this book has been hugely popular at our libraries.




Mother Goose Day (May 1, originated in 1987 by Gloria T. Delamar): There are many noteworthy Mother Goose nursery rhymes collections, but they would be hard-pressed to top my favorite, The Neighborhood Mother Goose. Babies and young children are innately drawn to photographs, which makes this ideal for even the youngest listeners. Children from many cultures are included in the photographs, which makes this unique among most collections. Nina Crews's companion, The Neighborhood Sing-Along, is also sublime (they were among the first books I purchased for my then newborn niece!).



Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day; May 4): Finding books about the Holocaust that are age-appropriate for young children is difficult. The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window is told through the perspective of the large chestnut tree that was mentioned in Anne Frank's diary.  The tree observes as war comes to Amsterdam, the Franks and their companions move in, the Nazis discover their hiding place and send them to concentration camps, with only Anne's father returning to receive his daughter's diary. The tree finally dies (the summer Anne would have turned 81), but its legacy lives in its seeds and saplings that have been planted (including at the site where the Twin Towers stood and at Central High School in Arkansas). Although it is definitely heartrending, it is gentle, sensitive, and celebrates the fact that although both Anne and the tree died, their legacies are strong and remembered. This is one of my hopefuls for the 2017 Caldecott.



Star Wars Day (May 4: "May the Force/Fourth Be With You!"): With Disney Hyperion/LucasBooks and DK launching an impressive line of Star Wars related books, Star Wars readers both young and old have many outstanding titles to devour while waiting for Rogue One and Episode VIII. The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia has long been a popular choice even before VII was released, but the fully updated Star Wars Character Encyclopedia has been flying off the shelves ever since we recently received it.





Cartoonists Day (May 5, celebrates the publication of the first color cartoon in 1895): Comics Squad: Lunch follows the immensely popular Comics Squad: Recess with cartoons and stories from the best children's and YA graphic novelists in the business, such as Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Cece Bell, Jarret J. Krosoczka, and more.





Cinco de Mayo (May 5, celebrates Mexico's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla; this is not Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16): If you'd rather commemorate Cinco de Mayo with crafts rather than margaritas, then check out Cinco de Mayo Crafts.




National Space Day (May 6, the first Friday in May): The History of Fun Stuff easy readers are a blast to read, so I'm eager to read the newest title in this series, The Stellar Story of Space Travel. Beginning with predictions about space travel made by Jules Verne and ending with the International Space Station, this promises to tell the incredible history of space exploration in a fun and inviting way for young independent readers.




Kentucky Derby (May 7): The Big Red Horse: The Story of Secretariat and the Loyal Groom Who Loves Him has long been on my to-be-read list for its celebration of the bond between the most famous Virginian horse (1973 Triple Crown winner) and his groom.







National Babysitters Day (May 7): I can't find any concrete information on National Babysitters Day, but any day is a great day to show appreciation for babysitters! Raina Telgemeier's adorable Babysitters Club graphic novels (which stay quite faithful to the original Ann M. Martin series) would be a great gift for tween mother's helpers or babysitters.







National Scrapbooking Day (May 7): Scrapbooks are a beautiful way to preserve photos and memories; young scrappers looking for inspiration should consider Sienna's Scrapbook: Our African-American Heritage Trip.



Mother's Day (May 8): Finally, we end this full week with the biggest celebration of all: Mother's Day! Because it's such an important day, I'm including two books for the occasion. While I have a multitude of favorite picture books about mothers, my favorite would have to be Ol' Mama Squirrel, who "chook chook chooks" at any intruder, big or small, who comes near her babies. Ol' Mama Squirrel does not suffer fools gladly, including big grizzly bears hungry for squirrel snacks.  I recently read it to a Head Start class, who loved "chook chook chook"ing along with Mama Squirrel. And if you'd enjoy a peek at mothering across cultures, A Ride on Mother's Back: A Day of Baby-Carrying Around the World  is a must read. I also discussed books featuring mothers from different cultures and backgrounds on the ALSC blog if you'd like more great books about mothers.


Can you believe that's just in one week? Stop by the library to pick up these fantastic books in honor of these occasions!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library



Monday, April 25, 2016

Ridiculously Good Reads: April Edition

Oh, boy...do I have some books to talk about. Late March-April brought many intriguing titles my way! Let's begin:



I do love a good YA survival story. Not fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian survival. Straight up survival in nature's harsh elements is what I'm talking about. If I get my hands on something like Trapped, The Living, or Peak, it's not unusual for me to finish it in two sittings. Adrift grabbed me right away: teens from two different social classes (and countries) must fight to stay alive when they become lost at sea. Plenty of drama, hair-rising suspense, sorrow, and bittersweet elation makes this a first-rate choice for anyone looking for high-stakes adventure under 300 pages. It gets rather gruesome at times, but no one reads survival stories for descriptions of high tea with the Queen, do they?



Want something that has adventure, mystery, science fiction (with science facts), and humor in one story? Pick up Beetle Boy, the first in a planned trilogy about a young son of a famed British entomologist searching for his father, who mysteriously disappeared. If genetically engineered beetles and a mad scientist (School Library Journal compares her to Cruella de Vil, which is apt) peaks your interest, you'll definitely enjoy this.




The Bitter Side of Sweet might not fly off the shelves, but for readers who seek books set in other countries or books that tackle contemporary topics, it might be one of the most memorable YA novels they read this year. Following young teens kidnapped and enslaved at cacoa farms, this is an eye-opening and unforgettable story that is a horrid reality for too many children and young adults. Remarkably, it is also full of friendship, courage, and hope. A brief afterword gives further information on this issue and how it relates to the worldwide chocolate industry.



I've long wanted to read a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer that wasn't a devotional, but the sheer size of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy kept me away. This phenomenal biography of the Lutheran pastor who openly defied the Third Reich and was eventually murdered at the Flossenburg concentration camp (two weeks before Allied troops liberated it) is a heavy tome, but an extraordinary read of this courageous pastor. In addition to giving a moving account of Bonhoeffer's life, Metaxes delves extensively into Bonhoeffer's writings (which later greatly inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.), which are not your average inspirational writings meant to soothe the reader. Metaxes also deeply examines German Christianity and the German church under Nazi rule (which by default was the Lutheran Church), including its collaborators and Bonhoeffer's fellow opponents. The vast majority of this was totally new to me (such as the "Germanification" of the Sermon on the Mount and the banning of tithing to the local church), and not something that is covered at great length in other books about the Third Reich. It is an inspiring, harrowing, and heartbreaking read (the framing of the beginning and conclusion of the book, which observes Bonhoeffer's parents listening to a British memorial service in honor of their son, is devastating) that is worth the patience and time it takes to read it.


I finished Hamilton: The Revolution the day it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Even if you don't follow Broadway, you've probably heard of the (mostly) hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton (largely performed by actors of color). If you love books about the production of Broadway musicals (me me me, even if I don't like the show), you need to read this. Not only does this contain the show's libretto (with insightful and occasionally funny annotations from Lin-Manuel Miranda), it is gloriously stuffed with essays about the show's cast and crew, as well as the creation of the show. A must read for any Broadway fan.



My Family for the War ,winner of  the 2013 Batchelder Award (which honors translations of children's/YA books originally published in a language other than English), is a captivating YA historical fiction novel centered on a ten year old German girl of Jewish descent (although her family converted to Christianity generations ago, the Nazis consider her family Jewish) who embarks to England on the kindertransport. When she eventually settles in with an Orthodox Jewish family, she rediscovers her Jewish heritage as she hopes for reunification with her parents. This is a sensitive, beautifully rendered tale that deals with heritage, loss, survivor's guilt, and love. It's one of the better historical fiction books I've read in several years, and a fascinating look at British life (and British Jewish life) during the height of the war.




I never thought I would love an easy chapter book series about animals living in an apartment building, but I adore Sprout Street Neighbors. A New Arrival returns to this diverse group of animals, who meet their new neighbor from Hawaii. Although the books are short, there is plenty of humor and tenderness that enrich the stories (most chapters are individual stories).

Looking for more suggestions? Check out recent and back issues of Wowbrary to read about the latest and greatest books ordered/added to our collection.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library




Monday, April 18, 2016

Tutus and Tap Shoes: Books for National Dance Week

If you have a budding ballerina or Broadway performer in your life, or just enjoy the art of dance, National Dance Week is a special week just for you and your family! Established in 1981, National Dance Week (April 22-May 1) promotes dance education in schools and expands community awareness of the fun of dance. Dance comes in many forms and is celebrated across many cultures, as is evidenced by these outstanding books for children:




Andrea Davis Pinkney's and Brian Pinkney's picture book biography of Alvin Ailey, who founded the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater to bring an African-American perspective to modern dance, is a vibrant and intriguing look at this dance pioneer.



Ballerina Dreams is a sweet and inspiring look at five children who learn ballet in spite of their physical disabilities.



Young independent readers should definitely read Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer for its eye-opening look at ballerina Michaela dePrince, who was adopted from Sierra Leone as a young child and made her way to the top of the ballet world, despite battling issues with vitiligo (a skin condition that causes depigmentation). Older readers might be interested in her YA memoir, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.



You've undoubtedly heard snippets of Appalachian Spring in commercials and other media, but do you know the creation of this uniquely American composition and ballet? Modern dance pioneer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland created a ballet with a distinctly American theme, unlike the classic ballets that told stories of European fairy tales and stories.  Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring tells the story of this famed partnership and dance, which celebrates the American pioneers of the 19th century.



Through the perspective of a young African-American daughter of a ballet company's seamstress, A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream introduces readers to Janet Collins, the first African-American prima ballerina. This is a beautiful and joyous tribute to a young girl's heroine.



Emma and Julia Love Ballet is already one of my favorite picture books of 2016. Written and illustrated by picture book master Barbara McClintock, this follows a young dancer and a professional ballerina as they take classes at the same ballet school and prepare for a special night at the ballet. The fact that Emma is Caucasian and Julia is African-American is not a point of discussion in the story; this is just a charming and gorgeous story about an aspiring dancer and the ballerina she admires.





One of the best (and authentic) Native American picture books in our collection is Jingle Dancer, which follows a young member of the Muscogee/Creek nation as she prepares for her jingle dance performance at an upcoming powwow. An author's note includes further information about the jingle dance and the special clothes worn by the dancer.



Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year also features a young dancer, Ernie, as he practices his lion dance for the Chinese New Year celebrations.



If you've seen Shirley Temple movies, then you're already familiar with the great tap dancer, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who was her dancing partner in many movies. Rap a Tap Tap--Here's Bojangles--Think of That is a joyous and rhythmic salute to one of the greatest tap dancers of all time (but without touching on the injustices he faced during his lifetime).  Consider this for a dance-themed story time.



With so many picture books only featuring grandparents if they are incapacitated or dying, Song and Dance Man remains one of my favorite picture books featuring grandparents. Although today's children will not have a grandparent who performed in vaudeville (this won the 1989 Caldecott medal), they will still delight in this loving, active, and fun grandfather who recreates his adventures on the stage for his grandchildren.



Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina is a brilliantly illustrated and told picture book biography of the childhood and career of Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina. Starting with her childhood on an Osage reservation, this is a humbling and memorable story of one of the ballet world's greatest dancers.

As you can see, dance is enjoyed and performed by people of all ages and backgrounds; check out one of these remarkable books when you next stop by the library!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library