Friday, August 15, 2014

Buzzing About National Honey Bee Day

Beekeeping has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, due in part to rising awareness of the plight of honey bees and the popularity of homesteading skills in general. Since 2009, National Honey Bee Day has been observed to bring attention to the importance of honey bees and the worldwide plight of bee colonies. If you'd like to introduce your children to the fascinating world of honey bees, check out these books:

Megan McDonald is probably best known for her Judy Moody series, but her Ant and Honey Bee series is just as cute.  Ant and Honey Bee have a number of adventures, from preparing to a costume party, to dressing up for Halloween, and braving the cold for a fun visit.

If you're in search of a sweet cooperation story, Bear and Bee should definitely be on your list. If you were a bear and had just awakened from hibernation, would you be in the mood for honey? This bear certainly is! The only trouble is that the nearest beehive is being guarded by a buzzing honey bee.  Looks like bear is out of luck--or is he?

Jam & Honey  strikes a similar "cooperation" theme, this time involving a young girl and a bee. A little girl gathers berries while a bee gathers pollen; although both are initially wary of each other, they manage to go about their business in a respectful and calm manner.  This is a gentle nod to the importance of respecting nature; it would make an excellent addition to an Earth Day story time.

These Bees Count! follows a class on a field trip to a honey and bee farm.  While observing and counting the various crops and animals on the farm, the students also learn about the intriguing and important work of bees.

If you're in the mood for nonfiction:

The Scientists in the Field series has to be at the top of every fan of children's nonfiction lists (the official website is quite cool as well).  I have not read one book in that series that failed to impress, engage, and enlighten me. It's always a good day when a new entry is published (they're currently researching crows in New Caledonia!) The Hive Detectives: Chronicles of a Honey Bee Catastrophe features the quest to discover why Dave Hackenberg's bee colonies have vanished, and what bee scientists and beekeepers are doing to save honey bees.

Younger readers can be directed to Anne Rockwell's Honey in a Hive and Gail Gibbons's The Honey Makers, which present information about bee culture in simple yet fact-filled nonfiction picture books.

We have many resources for adults interested in bees and beekeeping.

Laline Paull's The Bees has been on my to-be-read adult fiction list ever since I heard it described as "The Hunger Games, but with bees."

If you're a Fauquier County Public Library patron (or staff member!) and you haven't subscribed to Wowbrary yet, you are missing out! I will send my September order in the upcoming last weeks of August (how did THAT happen?), and it is FILLED with amazing-sounding titles. I am having a tough time deciding what I need to order now, and what can wait (in addition to ordering fall-themed books and refreshing the board books collection! Eeek!). Wowbrary also includes the latest adult fiction and nonfiction on order, as well as recently ordered DVDs, CDs, and ebook/eaudio additions.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 08, 2014

What to Read, What to Read....

With the overwhelming number of children's titles published every year, it's easy to get intimidated by the vast amount of choices available. Of course, lazily browsing the shelves is fun and often leads to new discoveries, but having some sort of guide is extremely helpful. If you're in need of great lists of children's literature, then this post is for you!

Public libraries often curate lists of gems in their collections, and Fauquier County is no exception!  While we do have print booklists available at all locations, we also have a variety of themed booklists for children, including readalikes for popular series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, age-appropriate biographies, and lists on popular subjects such as horses and princesses.

The New York Public Library has a number of excellent booklists, including 100 Great Children's Books and an extensive bibliography of the year's most distinguished children's and YA books, grouped by genre or format.

The Association for Library Services to Children publishes an annual list highlighting the publishing year's best books (as chosen by its committee).  Unlike the Newbery and Caldecott committees, the Notable committees's proceedings are open to the public. Their discussion list for their 2015 list is already available online!

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Education) has a number of unique booklists, with an eye toward books that represented the diversity of this country.

If you'd prefer more extensive lists and information on children's books, I recommend the following:

If you ever need a gift for an expectant parent that will (hopefully) have a lasting impact, you can't get much better than Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook. The title is slightly misleading, for it's not just a "how to read aloud" book, but it's also a "WHY to read aloud" guidebook, complete with an extensive and annotated list of children's books.

As a fan of lists, one of my favorite series is the "1001 Things to Do Before You Die" series. The 1001 Children's Books to Read Before You Grow Up has an international flair, which may make tracking down several titles tricky.  It's still a fun read for children's literature fans!

Nancy Pearl's Book Crush is also a terrific guide; long enough to be extensive, but short enough to not be very overwhelming.

For a compact guide, Anita Silvey's 100 Best Books for Children is a must read for those interested in the history of classic children's literature.

Happy reading!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 01, 2014

It's Time to Think Back to School!

Did this summer fly by for you? It definitely did for me! Summer is winding down, and soon everyone will be back in the school routine.  School stories are a perennial favorite topic for authors of children's literature; every year brings fantastic additions to our collection.  I haven't seen our latest ones because they are either constantly checked out, or they haven't arrived on our shelves yet.  I'm anxious to read them!

Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex's adorable panda returns in Chu's First Day of School.  This little panda is quite nervous, as many children are about the first day of school.  Luckily, he finds that his worries about his classmates, his teacher, and the daily routine are unfounded.

What's the best part of the school day? Many would say that it's recess.  Comics Squad: Recess! features comics about recess from outstanding children's authors and illustrators.  Modern graphic novel favorites characters such as Babymouse and Lunch Lady make appearances, along with original characters not seen before this collection. Cannot wait!

Dinosaur has battled (or attempted to battle) potty training, bedtime, Santa Claus, and the library, but this little dinosaur may have met his match in Dinosaur vs. School.  As you can imagine, pasting, meeting new friends, and playing musical instruments is initially a challenge for this new preschooler, but Dinosaur learns the fun of school and making friends.

The Little School Bus  stars Driver Bob and a very happy school bus as they pick up students, drop them off at school, and take care of minor repairs.  Riding the school bus is an exciting yet intimidating experience for many young children, so I'm excited to find another fun read aloud about school buses.

Parents of kindergarten students! We have a special story time for rising kindergarten students on August 14 at all branches (10:30 a.m.).

Want to know about our latest additions to our catalog? You should subscribe to Wowbrary!

I recently blabbered on about summer reading lists at the ALSC blog

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July Reads

Read any good books in July? I sure did! Let me tell you about them:

Books about dogs are hugely popular at our libraries; Duke's great cover attracted many young dog fans, and its superbly created story about a young boy who volunteers his dog for the World War II effort has undoubtedly introduced many readers to Kirby Larson's exceptional talents (Hattie Big Sky is a 2007 Newbery Honor book, and her The Friendship Doll is one of the handful of stories about dolls that I actually really enjoy). Hobie is reluctant to volunteer Duke, but is reassured by the fact that most dogs in the service remain stateside.  When Hobie learns that Duke is actually being trained for combat, he begins a letter writing campaign to Duke's trainer in the hopes of having him returned.  We've seen an increase in books about military dogs; Duke is a great choice for readers not quite ready to (emotionally) handle Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam or Dogs of War. Dash (out in late August) is Larson's follow-up to Duke, and features a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog when she is sent to an internment camp.

For the most part, I'm pretty "meh" about new books about the last Romanovs. I've read quite a number of them, ever since I picked up my grandparents' copy of Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in middle or high school (can't remember).  What possible new angle could a historian bring to this family, which has been obsessively studied? And an entire book just on the daughters? They were so secluded during their entire lives, and the oldest (Olga) was only 22 when they were killed, so it's hard to imagine a lengthy nonfiction book just about their lives. However, this has received a ton of attention and great reviews, so I decided to check it out.   From the moment I read that curious tourists touring the Russian palaces shortly after the executions were able to still see indentations in young Alexey's wheelchair, I knew that Helen Rappaport's new biography of the Romanov grand duchesses was going to be an eye-opening read.  Rappaport brilliantly evokes the increasing paranoia of Empress Alexandra and the suffocating reclusive life of the family (especially when the oldest girls reached puberty), which lead to distrust and hatred by the Russian elite (and on the other side of society....when the Tsarina and her daughters become involved in nursing activities during the war, the peasantry was disturbed by their very average appearances).  Even those familiar with the Romanovs will want to read this unique addition to imperial Russian history.  Young history fans might be interested in The Lost Crown, Sarah Miller's excellent YA novel about the Romanov grand duchesses and/or Candace Fleming's (very very) new biography of The Family Romanov.

(Question: Which book cover do you think is the best? The one pictured above is the American edition, and the one that is on the covers of our copies. This cover:

Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses.  UK Hardback Edition.

is the UK edition and features the girls at very young ages.  I think they are both gorgeous, but I'm partial to the American cover, because it shows the girls as they appeared shortly before their deaths.)

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space is an exceptional biography of the first American female astronaut.  Sally Ride was a Stanford graduate student when she came across an ad in the student newspaper recruiting women and minorities for NASA's new shuttle program; intrigued, she applied, became one of six women in the history-making NASA Group 8, and the rest is history.  Although her public life and career were well known, her private life and cancer diagnosis were not fully revealed until her death.  As the first comprehensive biography for adults, Lynn Sherr's account of this complex person is an intriguing and engrossing read (my minor criticism is that scattered references to pop culture--i.e. Angry Birds--may date the biography more quickly than necessary). Space fans of my generation and older will recognize that the graphic design for the main title is in the same style of NASA's logo during Sally Ride's active years in NASA.  I love carefully designed cover art! 

A Time to Dance has earned three starred reviews, which is a remarkable feat!  This YA novel in verse about a young Bharatanatyam (a form of classical dance in India) dancer who struggles with her new life post-amputation is deeply moving and illuminating.  Readers interested in dance stories, stories about young people with disabilities, or multicultural stories should definitely read this. I'm crossing my fingers that the Schneider committee doesn't miss this!

While we have several books about assistance or therapy dogs, Tuesday Tucks Me In is unique in that it addresses (in an age-appropriate way) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (without actually naming it). Some of Luis Carlos Montalvan's combat wounds are internal; he suffers nightmares and is extremely uncomfortable in crowds, but having Tuesday allows him to be a functioning member in society (the picture of Capt. Montalvan hugging Tuesday while on a crowded subway is heartbreaking and heartwarming).  Based on Montalvan's memoir, Until Tuesday, this is a gentle and stirring tribute to a very special friendship.

We're getting ready for the fall publishing season! Make sure you are subscribed to Wowbrary so you won't miss the great new additions to our collection!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, July 18, 2014

45 Years Ago

Do you know what July 20th is? If you're a space nerd, you know that it's the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!  What better opportunity than to check out our awesome books on space!

I was on the 2010 Jefferson Cup committee that named Mission Control, This is Apollo as one of the honor books (I wrote the annotation on this page); it's a gorgeously written and illustrated book that covers all aspects of space travel (including the question of toilet matters that every astronaut is asked about) and all 17 Apollo missions. 

I have been recommending the You Choose series ever since we received them, and order new ones when I can; these choose-your-own-adventure stories are not only super fun interactive stories, but they are also packed with amazing facts! The Race to the Moon focuses on the space race and the Apollo moon landing. Readers can choose to be a young rocket scientist, a journalist, or a mission control specialist. 

The Apollo 11 moon landing involved many more people than just the three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins). Team Moon pays tribute to the 400,000 people involved not only with mission control, but engineers, seamstresses, software technicians, and many more.  

We recently enjoyed an Out of This World story time at our branches, which featured stories about space and space activities (making paper rockets, drawing constellations, and making flying saucers).  Warrenton's toddler story time enjoyed stories and fingerplays about the moon and space travel, including these favorites:

Christine Loomis's adventurous bunnies star in Astro Bunnies, an intergalactic experience with stars and bunnies from another planet. Super silly and fun to read aloud! 

It's hard to beat 8 Spinning Planets for an introduction to the 8 planets. Told in a (workable!) rhyme scheme, young readers and listeners are introduced to basic facts about each planet.  Young children will enjoy the 3-D representation of each planet. 

Happy Birthday Moon features Frank Asch's young and lovable bear, who takes a fancy to the moon.  It has a bit more conversation than what I normally like to include in a story time selection, but it's a must read for a moon/space story time. 

The bumbling and wacky sheep from the classic Sheep in a Jeep are back in Sheep Blast Off .  Instead of causing chaos in a jeep, they wreck havoc in a space ship! This is a quick read aloud, but you should practice beforehand to minimize the chance of tripping over your tongue! 

Finally, if you're a grown up space enthusiast, these might catch your eye. I searched our catalog for related books and immediately wanted to bring every book home that I found. I managed to settle on the following:

Several articles about the Apollo astronauts mention that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is the book to read about this famously private man.  

Buzz Aldrin has become an elder statesman of the space program; with the 45th anniversary approaching, he's in much demand for his thoughts on Apollo 11's legacy, the current state of NASA, and the future of Mars exploration.  The stress and fame of being the first astronauts on the moon took their toll on the Apollo 11 astronauts, including depression (Neil Armstrong spoke about randomly bursting into tears in the days and months after the flight) and marital strife, which Buzz Aldrin is open about in his memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon.

Tom Wolfe's classic account of the space race and the Apollo missions is brought to new life in this expanded and illustrated edition. I peeked at this dense account right before I went to sleep, and it looks fantastic. 

While the astronauts were away from home training for space mission (and occasionally getting into mischief), their wives were holding down the home front, raising the children, and dealing with the constant media attention on their hairstyles, wardrobe, and their interactions with their husbands and children.  The Astronaut Wives Club is a hugely entertaining, fascinating, and occasionally heartbreaking tribute to these unique women. 

(ALSO....I won't talk about it until later in the month, but Lynne Sherr's new biography of Sally Ride is a must read for space fanatics.  Now, someone PLEASE write a history of the six women who were in NASA's first class of female astronauts. The success of The Astronaut Wives Club, The Girls of Atomic City, and Sherr's biography strongly demonstrate that books about women's history, especially science history, can and will be well received by the general book buying--and borrowing!-- public.  I also want an overview of NASA Group 8. Someone--make it happen! ) 

As you can guess, there are tons of awesome websites about the Apollo 11 mission and anniversary: 

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum tribute. They ran a mock "live tweet"  @Relive Apollo11

@NASAKennedy also ran a mock "live tweet" of the launch on July 16.

(Did you know that astronauts on the International Space Station are active on Twitter?)

Buzz Aldrin is spearheading a major social media campaign to collect people's memories of the moon landing (as he says, he, Armstrong, and Collins were "out of town" for the big day). You can get more details about #Apollo45 on his website. has information on NASA's planned activities for the anniversary.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, July 04, 2014

June Reads

I hope you're reading some awesome books this summer! I've discovered several fantastic reads--new and old--this month.

Better to Wish  is consistently checked out (as are the others in the trilogy); no surprise, given that Ann M. Martin is wildly popular. Martin covers a large age range in under 300 pages (main character Abby is eight at the beginning of the novel and a high school graduate at the conclusion), proving that you don't necessarily need a novel of epic proportions (400+ pages) to create an extended story line.  This coming of age story in Depression-era America is unique in that it features a mentally challenged character (Abby's brother).

Girls Like Us had been on my radar for many months before I finally read it; I was hoping that this YA novel about two young adults with mental retardation would be as excellent as it sounded.  Quincy and Biddy are placed in an apartment and work environment after they graduate from their high school's special education department.  Learning to live with each other is quite an undertaking, as both have individual capabilities and challenges. Alternating chapters are told through the girls' perspectives, and the vulnerabilities that young girls with mental challenges often face are brought to life authentically and emotionally. This is a mature YA novel, and a very worthwhile read that will stay with you for some time.

I loved, loved, loved The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish because it involved a history that I am quite familiar with: the rise and fall of home economics education in the United States.  Home economics education and extension services made a huge impact on families affected by the Depression; rather than wearing farm sacks for clothes, the "Dress Doctors" instructed women on how to create attractive-looking outfits, to recycle clothes, and to create their own style in an affordable manner. (They also taught nutrition and child care.)  Through home economics classes, 4-H clubs, and countless radio and magazine columns, the "Dress Doctors" showed women with limited finances how to stretch their budget and wardrobes. They scorned outfits that restricted women's movement (especially impractical shoes) and stressed practical and balanced designs (that we would probably consider rather restrictive, but this was revolutionary at the time). Although Linda Przybyszewski clearly admires these women, she is also careful to illustrate that, save for a few examples, they ignored or were quite prejudiced against women of color.  (Since this focuses on clothes and not the nutrition aspect of home economics educators, the fact that some had an extreme reliance on food chemistry at the expense of taste and practicality and had now outdated views on nutrition is not covered in depth; on the other hand, they did emphasize breastfeeding when it was not socially acceptable among the middle class). Home economics colleges at universities were often women's entries into collegiate life and careers, especially chemistry. All this came to a sudden change in the 1970s, when home economics programs in schools and colleges were ridiculed (and their educators ridiculed by speakers at their conferences) and eventually dismantled over several decades.  My undergraduate degree (Family, Child, and Consumer Sciences from Louisiana State University, which was completely revamped into a Bachelor of Social Work several years ago) was a Home Economics degree many decades ago; one of our courses was on the history of home economics, so learning more about Ellen Richards (the founder of AHEA, American Home Economics Association, which is now AAFCS, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) and her colleagues was a rewarding and welcome experience.  I love illustrations and pictures of everyday fashion history and common advertisements of the day; this is packed with them! Even those who don't have fond memories of their home ec classes, but are intrigued by women's history (the home ec leaders had their faults, including not knowing how to adapt and respond to the women's movement effectively, and some of their attitudes were not helpful in several ways, but they are an important and instrumental aspect in American women's history) or the history of domestic life in this country would love this.

Although the Lost Boys of Sudan are well known, their sisters have largely been forgotten. Lost Girl Found is a heart-wrenching tale of Poni, whose life is torn apart by the civil unrest in Sudan. Poni longs to escape the expected life of girls in her village, which is young marriage and childbearing.  After fleeing her village during an attack, she finds herself in a refugee camp in Kenya, where life is harder in a different way. Although the ending is hopeful, it's still quite sorrowful, as things will never be the same for Poni and her family.

When I started reading Revolution, I had just one question: how could Deborah Wiles possibly create anything more wonderful than Countdown? Incredibly, Revolution is just as extraordinary as her first novel in her Sixties trilogy.  Sunny's life is in all sorts of upheaval even before the Freedom Riders arrive in her home town of Greenwood, MS, thanks to the arrival of a new stepmother and her family. When the "agitators" and "invaders" show up and start "Freedom Schools" and attempts to register African-Americans to vote, Sunny's small town is thrown into a new world of hurt, chaos, and even murder. Wiles creates unforgettable and three-dimensional characters that show the complexity of humanity (the development of the relationship between Sunny and Annabelle, her stepmother is incredible).  As she did in Countdown, Wiles depicts the mood of the era through photographs, song lyrics, biographical sketches, and newspaper articles.  (My only complaint is that Revolution is an enormous book--nearly 500 pages, although I'm not sure what I would cut.).  I am on pins and needles waiting for the conclusion of the Sixties trilogy (Countdown was set in New Jersey, on the East Coast, and featured the Cuban Missile Crisis; Revolution was set in Mississippi, in the South, and featured the civil rights movement;  and the final book looks like it may be set in California, on the West Coast, and will feature the Vietnam War and the peace movement).  It's not necessary to read Countdown before reading Revolution, but Countdown readers will recognize one of the Freedom Riders.

I'm not entirely thrilled with Torn's cover description ("An American soldier. A British medic. Afghanistan. Can their love survive a war?"), but I know it's there to entice YA readers who may not necessarily read a "war story."  The love story is not the main focus of the story; rather, it's on the nineteen year old female British medic who is trying to cope with the chaos of Afghanistan, including her testy relationship with her female superior and befriending a young Afghani boy.  The realities of combat in Afghanistan are conveyed superbly; this is a harrowing read at times, and an intriguing look at combat from a young women's point of view.

We're nearly at the halfway mark for our summer reading program; we still have many awesome programs in store! Get all the details here.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to You Day!

Now that we are full swing into the summer reading program, my time available to blog is quite limited. My Thursday afternoon deadline has sneaked up on me for the second time. While I normally post about my month's reads on the last Friday of June, I'm going to hold off on that post for at least a week; I like to give those remarks more depth than usual, and that's not possible this week!

However, I don't want to miss a Friday. I went to my usual place of inspiration for when I need ideas for posts. I saw that June 27 was "Happy Birthday to You Day." Awesome! Let's talk about birthday-related books!

The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lana Kitty)  is a cute book to use when discussing birthday activities, manners, etc. Some manners books can be quite boring, but this has plenty of humor to keep children's interest.

Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty   is the first entry in the super fabulous and funny Bad Kitty series. Bad Kitty is stoked about his upcoming birthday party, but things quickly turn to chaos when his mischievous friends go nuts and his presents go missing! Each Bad Kitty book includes facts and tips delivered by Uncle Murray (readers will learn about basic cat care).

Nonfiction books about birthdays are few and far between; strange, because the annual birthday celebration is a huge part of children's lives! Good thing we have Gail Gibbons's Happy Birthday book. Young readers will learn about the history of birthday cakes, birthstones, and other things associated with birthdays.

I haven't read Happy Birthday to You! The Mystery Behind the Most Famous Song in the World, but you should if you want a nonfiction book about the song's history. Sounds like an intriguing read!

We're celebrating the USA's birthday July 1-5 at our libraries! Complete our patriotic-themed scavenger hunt and earn a small prize perfect for your July 4th celebration.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.