Monday, September 19, 2016

Ahoy, Mateys! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

It's everybody's favorite weird celebration: Talk Like a Pirate Day!  Pirate books are regularly in demand with our young readers, so I am always on the look for pirate books that offer something new and fun. Why not extend the fun of Talk Like a Pirate Day with some treasures?

King Jack and the Dragon was one of my favorite reads in 2011, so I was happy to discover its sequel,  Captain Jack and the Pirates. These highly imaginative boys have conquered the dragons and are now ready to face pirates! Stormy seas and vengeful pirates are just some of the adventures that the boys face.

Capstone Press's You Choose are huge hits with reluctant and ravenous readers alike; these "choose-your-own-adventure books started off as historical tales, but have branched out to mythology and fairy tales. Through The Golden Age of Pirates: An Interactive History Adventure, the reader can read/play as a pirate, a navy sailor, or a ship's crewmember.

When a treasure map leads to a library, what's a pirate (and librarian) to do? Luckily, Library Lou convinces Big Pirate Pete (and readers) that he is in the right place to find the best kind of treasures! No Pirates Allowed! Said Library Lou is a fun tale about the joys of reading (without being too trite or boring).

Looking for a fun and funny series with high adventure? You need to read the Starcatchers series! This prequel to Peter Pan introduces us to Molly, a young Starcatcher who becomes friends with Peter as they attempt to prevent pirates from stealing a trunk of magical stardust.

Pirates may love the letter Rrrrrr, but eventually, they get tired of it and set out to seize the other letters of the alphabet, as they do in Shiver Me Letters.

Who Was Blackbeard?, part of the ever-popular Who Was? series, informs readers about Edward Teach, the British sailor who pirated ships in the Caribbean as well as the American East Coast, including Virginia and North Carolina.

Did you know that women were pirates? If you've never heard of Grace O'Malley, Anne Bonny, or Cheng I Sao, check out Women Pirates: Eight Stories of Adventure to learn about these unconventional women.

 Not in the mood for pirate stories, but want to learn about the latest and greatest books ordered (or added) to our collection? Check out Wowbrary! We've recently ordered many amazing titles for children, teens, and adults, so be sure to check out back issues as well.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, September 12, 2016

September is Hispanic Heritage Month

As someone who loves learning about--and from--cultures and communities, I couldn't pass up a chance to blog about my favorite children's and YA books that focus on Hispanic heritage. Starting as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under the Johnson administration and expanded to a 30 day celebration by proclamation from President Reagan, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and cultures of South America, Central America,Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, and Spain from September 15-October 15 (September 15-16 marks the anniversaries of independence for many Hispanic countries).

Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia is the remarkable story behind Luis Soriano's determination to enrich rural Colombian children's lives with books. It's an inviting and sobering look at the lack of access to books and education that many children face.

Although there are many children's books about Cesar Chavez, Cesar, si se puede!=Yes, We Can is one of the most eye-opening and comprehensive titles available. Told through free verse, this collection of poems is illuminating and revealing (the included historical essay also enriches the poetry).

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin was my first introduction to Duncan Tonatiuh's incomparable artwork, which is inspired by pre-Columbian/Mixtec art from the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Puebla. Admittedly, it took me a bit to warm to it, but I now look forward to each new Tonatiuh title with great anticipation. Dear Primo follows the lives of two cousins who live very different lives in the United States and Mexico. Although their everyday experiences are unique, they are eager to meet each other and are united by their friendship.

As a fan of Margarita Engle's historical free verse novels set in Cuba (and her unforgettable Mountain Dog), it's hard to choose just one favorite from her work. Enchanted Air just might be it; her revealing memoir about her childhood in Los Angeles during the Cuban Missile Crisis is a much-needed addition to historical literature for children and young adults. Torn between two cultures (and fearful for her family back in Cuba), this is also a fantastic coming-of-age memoir that many readers will relate to and appreciate.

Pam Munoz Ryan's moving tale of a young Mexican girl and her mother working in Depression-era labor camps has become a modern classic, with many classrooms incorporating it into their history lessons. If you've already read Esperanza Rising, then you definitely need to read Ryan's other titles. Just try to choose a favorite!

Russell Freedman's astonishing body of work covers a multitude of subjects (his latest on the anti-Nazi resistance movement known as the White Rose Society is a must-read); through In the Days of the Vaqueros: America's First True Cowboys, readers learn that Mexican ranch hands instructed American cowboys on herding and roping techniques; the American cowboys also copied their outfits, tools, and even their slang. (Some Tex-Mex foods, such as burritos, are thought to have originated with the vaqueros, although there are other origin stories for the burrito.)

Told in the "This is the house that Jack built" storytelling style, The Pot That Juan Built introducers readers to Mexican potter Juan Quezada, whose pottery is reminiscent of the Casas Grandes people in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Now that Sonia Manzano has retired from Sesame Street (she was known as "Maria" to long-time fans!), I'm hoping that this means that she will create more outstanding stories for young readers. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano chronicles the life of a Puerto Rican neighborhood in 1969's Spanish Harlem, through the eyes of a fourteen year old girl wanting to join the neighborhood's activist movement, despite the wishes of her grandmother. Inspired by Manzano's childhood, this is a sensitively and engagingly written novel of both a girl and community in transition.

If Jonah Winter continues his You Never Heard Of? series, I hope he includes one about Roberto Clemente (Lou Gehrig would also be a great addition). We need more appealing and noteworthy books about this Puerto-Rican born baseball player who died much too soon; Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of the first Latin American/Caribbean player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (and member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve) who spent his off-season time working to uplift communities in need (his plane crashed when he was on his way to assist Nicaraguan earthquake survivors).

Although most people are aware of Brown vs. Board of Education, fewer people have heard of the 1946 Mendez vs. Westminster case, which ended legally mandated segregated education in California. When Sylvia Mendez was denied entrance into a "whites only" school, the Mendez family and the local Hispanic family organized efforts to bring a lawsuit to the federal district court. Read Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation for its heartrending yet inspiring overview of this little-known but crucial part of civil rights history.

If mature and lyrical YA novels are your thing, you definitely need to read Under the Mesquite. Aspiring poet Lupita must take on more household and child care responsibilities while her mother undergoes cancer treatment; this is a deeply felt coming-of-age story set in difficult circumstances; if you've never read anything by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, you need to fix that soon (cannot wait for Shame the Stars!)

Summer weather seems to be stubbornly holding on, so it's still a perfect time to read What Can You Do With a Paleta? Children in a Mexican neighborhood find all sorts of things to do with a paleta (a popsicle), including making masterpieces (!) as well as making tough decisions (always a difficult decision when faced with the prospect of many flavors!). This is a fun and upbeat read aloud (as is What Can You Do With a Rebozo?) for preschool and kindergarten children.

To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, visit the official site for information on 2016 events (click the individual links for updated information).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library  

Monday, September 05, 2016

So Many Books, So Little Time: New and Forthcoming Books!

Like all readers, my TBR (to be read) pile and list are both crazily huge. Now that the "summer blockbuster reads" season is over, publishers are now pushing their fall selections. Just as Hollywood tends to hold its award hopefuls and major crowd pleasers for the fall (and holiday season), publishers do the same as well.  Here's what I can't wait to add to my TBR pile!

Children's fiction and nonfiction:

I'll admit it. Fantasy is not my bag. Science fiction? Sure. But magic and dragons and all that jazz? I really have to force myself to read fantasy from time to time so that I can make recommendations to patrons that are beyond your standard titles (Harry Potter, anything by Jessica Day George, etc). However, a multicultural fantasy? Fantasy and science fiction have a long, long way to go in becoming more diverse (for all ages; the 2016 Hugo Awards winner for Best Novel, N.K. Jemisin, is the first African-American author to win in its 61 year history), so when I learned that the main character in The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes is a character of color, it immediately got my attention! The fact that reviews are praising its humor is another bonus (not many fantasies are funny!).

As Lonely Planet seems to be the only publisher that takes children's travel books seriously, any new children's book from them usually gets an automatic buy. Patrons and staff have been oohing and aaahing over their beautiful City Trails series, so I expect The Cities Book to be just as popular (as was The Travel Book). 86 world cities are highlighted.

Who wants to read a Snow White graphic novel set in 1920s New York City? *Hand shoots up* Phelan's previous graphic novels, especially the magnificent Bluffton, are exceptional.  Kirkus Reviews calls his latest "brilliant." School Library Journal says it's "stunning." Publishers Weekly warns,"...readers will want tissues on hand."  What more do you need to know?

One of the most popular series this year has been the DC SuperHero Girls series, featuring Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and other female superheroes as they navigate the ins and outs of super hero high school. Lots of fun; boys as well as girls have been checking them out (just as boys and girls both have enjoyed the stand alone Princess Leia and Rey Star Wars novels and comic). Fans of Goddess Girls and  Ever After High  need to check this series out (and if you want another series featuring superheroes at school, check out Study Hall of Justice)! Super Hero High Yearbook  is a fun little companion to the series, with "fun facts" about each superhero.

Young adult:

For teens (and YA literature fans) that prefer realistic fiction, Jordan Sonnenblick is an author I regularly recommend. His latest, Falling Over Sideways, was hailed by Kirkus Reviews for being "authentic, funny, dramatic, fantastic" in its portrayal of a young girl dealing with the aftermath of her father's stroke.

With Mike Lupica, Paul Volponi, John Feinstein, and Tim Green consistently creating moving and well-crafted sports stories, young sports fans have a wide array of superb sports stories to enjoy. Green's latest, Left Out, features a seventh grader who yearns to play football, but is worried that his deafness and speech impediment will keep him off the team (he uses a cochlear implant).

The Memory of Things is one of several recently published children's and YA fiction that focus on the tragedy of September 11, 2001 (others include Somewhere Among and All We Have Left, both also published this year). Two teens deal with the events of that terrible day in this "poignant" (School Library Journal) YA novel.

I learned about Shame the Stars several months ago, and I've been anxiously awaiting it ever since. This quasi-Romeo and Juliet story set during the Mexican Revolution along the Texas border has already earned enviable advance praise from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.

Adult fiction and nonfiction:

I'm a fan of historical fiction that covers several decades, so I'm eager to read Ashes of Fiery Weather. This saga of women in a family of New York firefighters spans generations from famine-stricken Ireland to an entire decade after 9/11; Publishers Weekly calls this "a moving testament to the men and women who risk their lives every day." Cannot wait.

The Fortunes is another multigenerational historical fiction saga, but this exploration of Chinese-American history adds some much welcome diversity to historical sagas. Beginning with Chinese immigrants working on the Central Pacific Railway in the mid 19th century and ending with a present-day biracial Chinese-American couple adopting an infant girl from China, this has received high praise for its depiction of Chinese-American life and history throughout the ages.

That's just a smattering of my ever-growing to-be-read list! If you need more titles to add to your own list, check out current and past editions of Wowbrary.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Happy Birthday, National Parks Service!

As a family that frequently went on camping trips and visits to historical places (I identify very much with Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation), visting national parks was part of my childhood experience. I have many fond memories of Shenandoah National Park (rained the entire time during one trip!), Rocky Mountain National Park (briefly snowed during our July trip!), and how could I forget the car trip and visit to Grand Canyon National Park and the Petrified Forest (we often stopped at rest stops for a picnic lunch; a stop in New Mexico taught me about desert heat when I reached for my second sandwich slice, of which contained very dried out bread). When I moved to Virginia, visits to Shenandoah National Park in the fall became a staple. As I've learned more about the NPS, more destinations have been added to my "bucket list": Acadia, Apostle Islands, Assateague, Denali (or any of the parks in Alaska), Mammoth Cave, and Yellowstone, just to name a few (going back to the Grand Canyon is also on that list, because I'm sorry to admit that I did not appreciate it when I was a middle schooler!) . Until then, armchair travelers such as myself will have to satisfy our wanderlust with these magnificent books for children and adults about the NPS, in honor of its centennial:

Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure is just one of the many books that have been published in this centennial year; Buddy Bison introduces readers to the sights and adventures of Yellowstone National Park. National Geographic Kids is one of my favorite publishers; their books are always creatively and attractively designed, and the information is jam-packed with fascinating tidbits.

I reviewed The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, And Our National Parks in April 2012; it's an inspiring and revealing look at how the idea of a national park was created at a critical moment in our nation's history. John Muir: America's First Environmentalist is another excellent look at the famed naturalist.

Although Shenandoah is one of the crown jewels of the NPS, its creation has a rather dark and unfortunate history. In recent years, the visitors center has created exhibits and a short documentary that address the fact that people were forced out of their homes (although not without putting up a strong fight) in order to create the park. Grandpa's Mountain (for children) and Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal (for adults) are both eye-opening looks at the losses endured by the families who originally lived on the land.

If you'd like a short introduction to the national parks, don't miss  M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet (that existed as of 2003; several more parks have been established since then). If you're familiar with Sleeping Bear Press's alphabet series, you'll know that the "story in rhyme" can be enjoyed by young readers, while the informational sidebars add fun facts to the experience.

Although Chincoteague is not part of the NPS (it is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Assateague Island is, which is as good as any excuse to include Misty of Chincoteague. Marguerite Henry's classic tale of the annual pony swim made Virginia's wild ponies internationally famous when it was published in 1947 (you can stay at the same inn in which Henry wrote her novel!).

I have not yet read Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, And Helped Cook Up the National Parks Service; our copies have been super popular! This tribute to a Chinese-American chef who kept a team of researchers healthy during a crisis in what would become Yosemite (and for whom Sing Peak was named) has received tremendous reviews.

Just in time for the centennial is National Geographic Kids's updated National Parks Guide U.S.A, which is a junior version of the comprehensive guide for adults. Parks are divided by region and include travel tips, where to find fossils, successful environmental achievements, and of course, fabulous photographs.

Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, And Grizzly Bears in America's Own Backyard, part of the magnificent Scientists in the Field series, is an insightful look at the natural scientists studying the unique animals that reside in our national parks.

I love the Where Is? spinoff of the wildly successful Who Was/Is series; Where is the Grand Canyon? is a fun overview of the development of the canyon, the Native American tribes who lived and still live there, and the establishment of the canyon as a national park.

Although no one (I'm sure) wants to see a species go extinct, the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone was controversial. To many people's surprise and delight, once the wolves returned, the natural environment of the park deepened in diversity and blossomed. The Wolves Are Back is a gorgeously told and illustrated account of the controversy, the reintroduction process, and the enormous benefits reaped by the ecoystem. Jean Craighead George's The Buffalo Are Back is a similarly beautiful look at the reintroduction of the buffalo to the Plains region (also on national park land).

For Adults:

We are fortunate to live near many national park sites; not just in Virginia, but also many that are ideal day trips. The NPS site is the best place to find not just parks, but also forests, monuments, and historic sites. Once you have determined your next journey, visit us to grab travel guides crammed with useful and intriguing information (I love Wikitravel and other online travel sites as much as the next person, but a good guidebook is hard to beat for reading pleasure, in addition to expert overviews of historical and cultural information). If you're planning a trip close to home, take our guides on the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Chesapeake Bay, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Jamestown and Yorktown,Washington D.C., and Shenandoah. Many civil war sites in the area are part of the NPS, so Touring Virginia and West Virginia's Civil War Sites should definitely be on your list.  We have many park-specific guides focusing on Acadia National Park, Grand Canyon, Mammoth Cave, Smoky Mountains,  Yellowstone, and Zion and Bryce Canyon as well.

When I travel, I enjoy reading books about the area's history and culture. Travelers to Yellowstone should check out Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone and Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone National Park.

Making a visit to Gettysburg? In addition to the many historical looks at the battle, consider Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg, which is a thoughtful and moving personal journey through the battlefield.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks is on my never-ending to-be-read list; Terry Tempest Williams's portraits of twelve national parks has been hailed for its deeply personal and eye-opening look at our national parks.

Finally, for brilliantly photographed and written general histories of the NPS, you must read
National Geographic The National Parks: An Illustrated History and The National Parks: America's Best Idea (the companion volume to Ken Burns's documentary).

Travel documentaries are perfect for both travel prep and armchair travel; we have many breathtaking DVDs about our beautiful national parks that are waiting for new viewers!

Next week, I'll blog about forthcoming and newly released books (I was going to blog about that until I learned that the NPS centennial was August 25th!). Prepare your to-be-read lists!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ridiculously Good Reads: Late Summer Edition

Where did the summer go? I hope you read some awesome reads this summer! When I realized that I haven't done a "Ridiculously Good Read" post since May, I knew that I had a lot of catching up to do. I had a much longer list than this, but I am saving some titles for future posts. Here are some of my outstanding favorites from the summer:

I've been a huge fan of Sundee T. Frazier ever since I read The Other Half of My Heart, which was shamefully neglected during its publication year for recognition and awards. Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire is intended for a slightly younger audience, but Tucker's characters are just engaging and relatable as Frazier's other characters. Cleo (half African-American and Filipino) is a entrepreneur-in-training (her hero is an Oprah-like talk show host and successful businesswoman). When Cleo's latest scheme backfires (and gets her into trouble at school), Cleo must deal with the loss of customers (as well as some friendship issues). Cleo is funny, annoying at times, and has ups and downs with family, friends, and classmates; Tucker is intimately aware of upper elementary school issues, and creates realistic and appealing characters. A subplot involving Cleo's discomfort with a "family tree" assignment (she is adopted) is sensitively woven into the story. I hope we see more of Cleo very soon!

There are many variations of the "tortoise and hare/hare and tortoise" fable, but Alison Murray's Hare and Tortoise is one of my two favorite retellings of this Aesop tale (Helen Ward's version is perfect if you want a more sophisticated and traditional rendition). While Murray doesn't take many liberties with the actual story, this has an irreverant and silly feel (complete with maps!) that make this a top-notch read aloud for preschool and kindergarten students (Ward's ending is not as friendly and is a bit more cynical, which makes it ideal for older students).

If you need realistic and mature reads for older YA readers, you can't go wrong with Chris Lynch. Hothouse is my new favorite (although it was published in 2010); it is absolutely exceptional. D.J. and Russell have known each other for years, but their friendship has waxed and waned as they grew older. When their fathers, professional fire fighters, are killed in a fire, the community swarms around them in adulation of their hero dads...until disturbing circumstances about the fire come to life. The new revelations crush the families and turn many in the community against them, with the two boys reacting in very different ways. This a powerful look at the worship of fallen heroes: how it can suffocate bereaved families, and how quickly it can change when heroes are revealed to be human.

Although L.J. Alonge's companion novels, Justin and Janae, are both great quick reads, Janae is the superior title. The trials and tribulations of teen basketball players living in Oakland will appeal to sports fans, especially reluctant readers (Justin has more mature elements than Janae).

While there are many beautifully created and illustrated picture books of Jesus's life, far too often the language is so rich and sophisticated that it is out of reach for young listeners (especially if the text is taken directly from a Bible translation). On the other hand, there is no shortage of crassly and cheaply  produced picture books of Bible stories. Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus is a much welcome relief from both ends of the spectrum. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (Abrams's adult and juvenile divisions publish heavily illustrated books for all readers, including the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Origami Yoda series; their adult books are usually gigantic coffee table books about art, design, and entertainment), this is a gorgeously told and painted retelling of Jesus's life. It is breathtaking, deeply moving, and an ideal gift for an Easter basket. Betsy Bird thinks it could be a wild card for the Caldecott; I heartily agree!

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote; the Cat in the Hat nonfiction titles are cute, but often leave a lot to be desired. However, with the election coming up, I knew that it would be a popular choice. Now that I've read it, it's now my top recommendation for books about the election process! Not only does the Cat in the Hat explain the basics of campaigns and rallies, but also does a little nonvoting shaming (!) and mentions political parties other than the Republicans and Democrats (Green Party and Libertarian party in particular). The rhyme scheme can get a little forced, but for an introduction to the voting process, this can't be beat for its instant appeal, fun nature, and surprisingly diverse overview.

I'm not a huge fan of alternate history; a historical fantasy about the Russian tsars made me a little uncomfortable, to be honest. But  I'm working my way through YA books published in 2016, so I grabbed The Crown's Game from the new YA shelf. This fantasy (a series opener, of course!) about dueling magicians whose fate is intertwined with the Russian royal family is richly epic and tragically romantic.

The history of invention is rife with stories of inventions that came about through mishaps in the creation process; Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Invention is no exception. NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson was working on a new cooling system for rockets when he managed to create one of the most popular water toys for kids; not only is this a fun story about an accidental invention, but it's also a story about the importance of perseverance, creativity, and overcoming obstacles.

Just as adult worker bees in cubicles dream of chucking it all and moving to an organic farm in the country, Homer years to "get back to nature" and tap into his wild wolf ancestry. Luckily, he has some very understanding humans, who ship him off to wolf camp...where he discovers that wolves don't sleep on comfy beds in warm and dry houses (and bacon strips handed over by indulgent humans are nowhere to be found). Wolf Camp is a hilarious "grass is always greener" tale that readers/listeners up to third grade will love.

Next week, I'll blog about newly received or ordered books for Fall 2016; my to-be-read list is overflowing!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Pachyderm Pride: Celebrate World Elephant Day

Elephants are amazing creatures. They are fierce fighters, attentive mothers (and aunts, older sisters, and grandmothers!), and have complex behaviors that have intrigued scientists for ages. In honor of World Elephant Day, let's take a look at the fascinating and fun books we have about these majestic creatures:

Children's literature's most famous elephant stars in his very own yoga instruction book! As Babar demonstrates in Babar's Yoga for Elephants, even the most unwieldy creatures can tackle yoga poses. Through 15 yoga examples, Babar demonstrates how yoga helps to calm him as he travels around the world (he even offers helpful advice on what to do if your trunk gets in the way while practicing yoga).

Caitlin O'Connell 's A Baby Elephant in the Wild is a perfect introduction to elephants for young readers and listeners. With evocative photography and text, a small elephant's daunting world of survival is brought to life.

Although I love the final Elephant & Piggie for its sweetness and nostalgia, Elephant and Piggie: We Are in a Book! remains my #1 Elephant & Piggie (or Elephant & Gerald as some call it) book. Elephant & Piggie are super proud to be in a book and being read by a real reader, but Elephant freaks out when Piggie informs him that the book will eventually end. Luckily, they come up with a rather inventive solution. Not only is this hysterically funny (as are the other E&P books), but it also imparts the fun of reading (and re-reading!) in ways that books about the joys of reading often fail to do.

I've been a longtime favorite of the inimitable Scientists in the Field series (I am eagerly awaiting Crow Smarts).  The Elephant Scientist follows renowned elephant researcher Caitlin O'Connell as she researches elephants in Nambia, during which she discovers that elephants actually listen with their limbs!

We've seen examples of gorillas painting (most famously Koko's artwork), but  Elephants Can Paint, Too shows that these immense creatures enjoy playing with paints as well. Katya Arnold's work with preschoolers in Brooklyn is juxtaposed with her work with elephants in Thailand. Read this to young listeners who love books with photographs and true stories about animals.

I've read Little Elephant to my Baby Steps attendees many times over the years; even babies are entranced by infant elephants! Text is extremely short (one sentence per page), while the pictures are clear (by the legendary Tana Hoban) and uncluttered with extraneous details.

Finally, Splash is an outstanding read aloud on a hot summer day. Everyone in the jungle is sweltering on a hot African day, until baby elephant does what what comes naturally--making a huge splash! I've also used this with my Baby Steps class; even very young attention spans will love this.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library