Friday, November 21, 2014

Authentic Reads for Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American/ American Indian Heritage Month, which makes this a great time to highlight my favorite children's/YA books featuring Native American characters/historical figures:

I reviewed The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood last December;

I always look for Christmas books that depict the holiday in unique situations and settings, which is why The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood  is a huge favorite.  Being the daughter of an Episcopal priest is not easy, especially when Virginia is expected to let everyone else choose gifts before she does from donations sent to the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Virginia needs a new coat to get her through the harsh South Dakota winter, and is thrilled when she spies a lovely gray fur coat in good condition among the recent donations.  She is heartbroken when another girl, unfriendly to Virginia, picks the coat.  It looks like Virginia will have to make do with her old coat--until a special box arrives.  I adore this book; the Sioux face harsh conditions on their reservation, but they are a tightly knit family and community oriented culture.  Make sure you pay attention to the illustrations; I always look for the Nativity pageant with its Sioux culture influences (the Three Wise Chiefs), and the American Indian dolls in Santa's sack. 

I included Code Talker in my 2009 roundup of titles for American Indian/Native American Heritage Month:

Joseph Bruchac is probably one of the best-known Native American authors (Abenaki) currently writing for children. I recommend all of his books, but particularly The Winter People (about the French-Indian War), his young adult novel, Geronimo, and Hidden Roots. My favorite Bruchac novel is Code Talker, a young adult novel about the Navajo code talkers of World War II. Too often, Native American history in children's books seems to begin with Columbus and end with the pioneers and Trail of Tears; it's rare to see children's or teen fiction dealing with any Native history other than those topics. Code Talker is an amazing read and a part of history that everyone should know. 

Diamond Willow was also included in that post:

Although I didn't warm to it immediately, Diamond Willoweventually became one of my most memorable reads in 2008. Willow is quite a remarkable young girl and on the verge of teendom, with all the confusion and changes that come with the teenage years. Her father's sled dogs are a big part of her life; while mushing to her grandparents' home, an accident reveals a heartbreaking family secret. It's a short yet hauntingly beautiful story. 

Hooked was one of my favorite reads in 2013:

Finding good YA literature about contemporary American Indian characters is difficult, so this realistic story of a American Indian high school golf champ is a bright spot.  When Fred (short for Fredericka) is invited to join her high school's golf team, she immediately faces trouble from the other golf team members.  Not only are they resistant to a girl joining their team, but their prejudice against American Indians is also a barrier. As you can guess, strained relations between the (more wealthy) local Caucasians and the American Indians living on the nearby reservation are key elements to the story (which include a relationship between Fred and a Caucasian boy, which causes conflict and suspicion on both sides) and social issues faced by many American Indians (poverty and alcoholism) are introduced, but it also features positive relationships between family members and friends.  Fichera's follow up to Hooked will be released in May. 

As was If I Ever Get Out of Here:

Historical fiction featuring American Indian characters are often set during the western expansion era, so a YA novel with American Indian characters set during the 1970s is quite welcomed.  This friendship story set in a military upstate New York town in 1975 is gripping and enormously heartbreaking; the music of the era plays a big part of the story (a playlist is helpfully included).

We have several of the "--for Kids With 21 Activities" books--they are good resources for projects that involve making something for a history project. Native American History for Kids: With 21 Activities gives a wide overview of Native American history and includes instructions for making culturally-appropriate items.

Rabbit's Snow Dance is a cautionary tale about the dangers of wanting something too much. Rabbit loves snow and wants it to snow year round, even in the summer! Using an Iroquois drum and song, he makes it snow--aggravating his friends in the process.  This is a fun and fantastic read aloud!

Sweetgrass Basket remains one of the most striking children's/YA novels written about the boarding schools established for Native American children in order to fully assimilate them into Caucasian American culture. Told from the perspective of two sisters, this is an eye-opening and unforgettable read about a shameful part in American history.

Before we know it, the Newbery and Caldecott winners (along with many other children's/YA awards) will be announced. I have quite a bit more to read before I list my picks! Look to your right to find my picks so far (I don't list a title until I have completed it).

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, November 07, 2014

National Memoir Writing Month

Many people know that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but did you know that it is also National Memoir Writing Month? I'm a big fan of memoirs; after learning this interesting nugget of information, I collected the titles of my most memorable memoir reads.

Although memoirs and autobiographies are largely shelved in our biography section (with a few exceptions: war memoirs can be found in the history section, travel memoirs in travel, etc), there is a difference between memoirs and autobiographies.  A memoir focuses on one specific aspect of the writer's life, while an autobiography covers the entirety of the writer's life (up to the point of publication). Dreams From My Father and Decision Points are considered memoirs and not autobiographies for this very reason: Dreams From My Father focuses on Barack Obama's childhood and early adulthood with a strong emphasis on how his biracial identity and his absent father affected him, while Decision Points covers key aspects and crises of George W. Bush's presidency, how he dealt with them, and lessons that he learned from them.

With that in mind, here are some outstanding memoirs for children, young adults, and adults:


Brown Girl Dreaming is a National Book Award finalist and at the top of many people's Newbery 2015 picks (including mine). You can read my review of Woodson's exceptional memoir in verse here.

I first read The Endless Steppe when I was in elementary school; it's a harrowing read of a Polish family exiled to Siberia during World War II.

Although some elements of Beverly Cleary's childhood found their way into her stories, the mostly united and supportive families that she wrote about (save for her Newbery Medal book, Dear Mr. Henshaw, which was a significant departure) were a far cry from her Depression-era childhood and her chronically-depressed mother.   Girl From Yamhill/My Own Two Feet (two volumes) are must reads for Cleary fans (My Own Two Feet ends just after the publication of her first book, Henry Huggins).

Fans of Jon Scieszka's weird and wacky humor will be delighted by Knucklehead; his stories of growing up with five brothers will resonate with those who grew up in large families and those that wish they did! Adults who went to Catholic school in the 1960s will also get a kick out of this.

I reviewed The Pregnancy Project in 2012 (read my review here). Gaby Rodriguez's fake pregnancy project (undertaken with the knowledge of her boyfriend and several key adults) is a great springboard for discussions on stereotypes and gossip. (Young adult)

Under a Red Sky: Memoirs of a Childhood in Communist Romania  is a striking read of a young girl growing up in an unusual family at the height of Romania's communist era.  (Young adult)

Graphic memoirs (that is, written in graphic novel format--I wish we had a better term for graphic nonfiction!) have really exploded in recent years. Here are my favorites:

March: Book One is one of my top favorite reads of 2014; I cannot wait for the January 2015 release of the second entry in this trilogy. I reviewed Congressman John Lewis's memoir in January; this is exceptional reading for young adults and adults. (Adult nonfiction)

You can't talk about amazing graphic memoirs without mentioning Maus or  Persepolis. Maus is a brilliant evocation of Art Spiegelman's attempts to come to terms with his father's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, which have understandably affected their relationship. Persepolis recounts Marjan Satrapi's childhood in Iran shortly after the overthrow of the Shah. (Adult nonfiction)

I'm a fan of everything created by Lucy Knisley, but Relish remains my favorite.  I reviewed this treat in February; don't read it if you are hungry! (Shelved in YA, but adults would enjoy as well.)

Smile is my favorite Raina Telgemeier graphic memoir. I reviewed this irresistible read in 2013. (young adult)

I reviewed To Dance in 2006; this middle-grade graphic memoir is ideal for preteen and teenage ballerinas. (children's nonfiction)

Of course, we have many riveting memoirs in our adult nonfiction collection:

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a food memoir like no other; while most food-oriented memoirs are full of lush descriptions of plentiful eating, Anya von Bremzen's memoir is a tough read about her family's often harsh life during Russia's communist era. I reviewed this in December 2013, and it remains one of the most distinguished memoirs I have read.

There are many worthwhile memoirs about beloved dogs (Merle's Door, for one), but many end with the adored elderly dog dying. The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout is a welcome reprieve.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is an eye-opening and inspiring account of the author's secret book club for Iranian women.

Finally, The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, And the Power of Family is an occasionally irreverent (the author is a practicing Mormon who struggles with his faith at times), dark, and funny read about dealing with Tourette's, a complicated adoption process, and public librarianship.

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, October 31, 2014

Mad for Magazines

Have you ever been in a reading slump? When you just can't get into a book, no matter what? I get them from time to time, even when I have a number of books checked out that I am interested in reading. When this happens, I usually turn to magazines. Luckily, now that we subscribe to Zinio, I can binge read any number of magazines without shelling out a bundle for them or waiting for the latest issue to circulate. Best of all, there's no pile of magazines waiting to be read and then recycled or returned to the library! If you're traveling for the holidays, our digital magazine collection will also free up space in your luggage. Unlike ebooks, these magazines will stay on your devices until you delete them (there's no due date!).

October 13, 2014 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek
I've also discovered magazines that I normally would have never thought would interest me. Bloomberg Businessweek, for one. I downloaded a recent issue because the cover article was about the recent woes of and changes to The Weather Channel (Yes, I remember when The Weather Channel was only about weather, and The History Channel was only about history documentaries, and you could actually learn something on The Learning Channel. Now, get off my lawn). After reading this week's issue that includes a fun and enlightening read about online entrepreneurs trying to make bra shopping a less aggravating experience, I'm now hooked on the magazine. (Did you know that you can sign up for email notifications when your favorite magazine has a new issue?)

November 01, 2014 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray

Now that it's almost November, the cooking and decorating magazines are laser-beam focused on Thanksgiving. Save your money for the holidays and download Country Living, Every Day With Rachel Ray, Family Circle, Food Magazine, Good Housekeeping (also available in Spanish), Martha Stewart Living, Taste of Home, and Woman's Day for inspirational--or aspirational--reading. Vegetarian Times is also available to support those who will have a tofu turkey at their family table.

One of the benefits of digital magazines is that you can hide your guilty pleasure reads. If you'd rather keep quiet the fact that you read Cosmopolitan (also available in Spanish), US Weekly, or Star magazine, your secret will be safe with Zinio. (You can even download back issues!)

November 01, 2014 issue of Popular Science

If science and technology are more your speed, consider Astronomy, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, PC Magazine, and PC World.  If you're an Apple devotee, Apple, iPhone + iPad Life, and MacWorld should satisfy readers who must have the latest iProduct.

October 01, 2014 issue of National Geographic Interactive

Nature lovers will flock to the latest editions of Bird Watching, Mother Earth News, and National Geographic. National Geographic Magazine's digital edition includes videos and extras that you won't find in the print magazine.

November 01, 2014 issue of Weight Watchers

If you already know that fitness is one of your 2015 resolutions, Eating Well, Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Prevention, Runner's World, Shape, Weight Watchers, and Yoga Journal magazines will provide plenty of encouragement.

This is just a sample of the magazines available through our Zinio collection. We also have American Girl, Seventeen, and  Skateboarder for young readers.  It's very easy to access our digital magazines. Simply go here and create a Zinio account!

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, October 24, 2014

October Reads

It's nearly the end of the month, which means that it's time for my monthly reads wrap-up. Here's what I enjoyed this month (so far):

We have received a number of fantastic graphic novels and graphic memoirs for adults recently (March: Book One, with its sequel out in January 2015 and The Harlem Hellfighters among them). While I'm not really drawn to fantasy/science fiction graphic novels, I love realistic fiction graphic novels (like Raina Telgemeier's YA/middle grade graphic novels) and graphic memoirs such as those written by Lucy Knisley. Her latest, An Age of License, follows Lucy as she travels around Europe while attending a Norwegian comic book convention.  Although not as food-oriented as Relish, Knisley's reflections and drawings of the culinary delights she experienced during her travels will satisfy her gourmand readers. Knisley also explores the uncertainties that are inevitable for twenty-somethings: relationships, career issues, etc. Relationships always play a key part in her memoirs: her relationship with her mother is key in both French Milk and Relish, while the effects of a long-term relationship breakup and an impromptu European romance take center stage in An Age of License (her struggles as a young cartoonist is also paramount to the story). If you're a fan, you'll be happy to know that she is working on two new graphic memoirs: one (to be released in early 2015) will focus on taking a cruise with her grandparents, and the second will be centered on preparations for her wedding (2016).

Could Brown Girl Dreaming finally win Jacqueline Woodson the Newbery? (She's received the Honor citation three times: After Tupac and D Foster in 2009, Feathers in 2008, and Show Way in 2006--one of the few picture books in the Newbery canon).  Brown Girl Dreaming has received a staggering number of six starred reviews and is on the longlist for the National Book Award. This memoir in verse tells of Woodson's childhood experience living in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York during the Civil Rights era. Moving to her grandparents' South Carolina was a culture shock: not only did Jacqueline have to experience the tragic situation of Jim Crow laws, but she also had to adjust to her southern relatives' accents and become a Jehovah Witness.  Just as soon as she had found life in her new neighborhood and family comforting refuges from the evils of segregation, her mother (in tow with a new baby brother) returns from New York and brings the children to the busy and unfamiliar inner city.  At the heart of the story are the family and friends connections made (and made difficult by) while dealing with the uncertainty of never feeling like you belong in one place. This is outstanding storytelling about the importance of roots, family, and self-worth. Definitely on my list for Newbery potentials.

Comics Squad: Recess is a fun and wacky tribute to recess from authors that both young readers, parents, teachers, and critics love. That's not an easy feat, let me tell you! Popular characters in children's graphic novels, such as Babymouse and Lunch Lady, make appearances, as do characters created specifically for this edition.  This is quality pleasure reading: pure fun.

The followup to Kirby Larson's Duke once again features a child and dog during war time; in Dash, the separation occurs because Mitsi is forced to relocate to a Japanese internment camp after Pearl Harbor is bombed, leaving behind her beloved dog, Dash.  The prejudice and hostility toward Japanese-Americans immediately after the United States enters the war leads to confusion and chaos even before her family is removed; once at the camp, the living conditions, sickness, and boredom cause even more troubles, even though new friendships and community connections are made. This shameful event in American history is depicted in an honest and gripping story; the dignity of the Japanese-Americans at the internment camps, the latent racism that lead to the camps, and the Caucasians who tried to help their Japanese-American friends during this trial make for a memorable read.

Edith and Woodrow: The Wilson White House focuses on one of the most shocking aspects of American presidential history: that Woodrow Wilson was so incapacitated by his stroke that his wife essentially acted as president for the remaining term (and attempted to get Wilson a third term). Edith Woodrow's over involvement with her husband's presidency was whispered about even during his term, but the revelation of papers written by Wilson's physician, Dr. Cary Grayson, showed the full and irreversible nature of his illness. (Local history connection: The papers were released by Grayson's sons, who lived in Upperville.) Although detailed to the point of exhaustion at times, this is a remarkable biography.

Put away your expectations about children's books written by celebrities when you see Gus & Me: The Story of My Grandad and My First Guitar. Or an expectation about a children's book written by Keith Richards. Richards and his jazz/big band musician grandfather (everyone called him Gus) were very close; Gus promised him that he would buy him a guitar and teach him how to play when he was old enough. This is a sweet and charming tribute to a beloved grandparent and the importance of mentoring. Theodora Richards (Richards's daughter) has created poignant illustrations of her father, grandfather, and London. A CD of Richards reading the book is included. Everything about this book is lovingly created for young readers, including Richards's simple author biography (Keith later began playing in a band with a group of friends, including Mick Jagger. They called themselves the Rolling Stones.) and a very brief explanation of how Theodora (named after Gus, whose formal name was Theodore) researched postwar London and traveled to London for inspiration show how carefully her drawings were created. Too often, a grandparent only appears in a children's picture book in order to explain death; this is a welcome addition to books about involved and loving grandparents who aren't in the final stages of life (or have Alzheimer's).

From time to time, I am asked to recommend books about Holocaust for children too young for books like The Diary of a Young Girl or Yellow Star. This is, as you can imagine, rather difficult to do. Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust will definitely be one that I recommend. This graphic novel opens with a grandmother telling her granddaughter of how she was hidden by French neighbors and friends after her parents were taken to concentration camps. The enduring sorrow felt by Dounia is evident as she tells her life story--one that she has never fully told her to her son--is powerfully drawn and depicted. This is a remarkable addition to Holocaust literature for children.

When I read reviews that criticized How Star Wars Conquered the Universe for overstuffing the account with too many details, I thought that it would be impossible for me to think that the first history of the Star Wars phenomenon had too many details. After all, I've been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid! readers will learn, there's nothing that Star Wars fanatics love more than tearing apart anything related to Star Wars. Chris Taylor's analysis of the first Star Wars movie (note: NOT The Phantom Menace) is great reading; chapters about the screening of Star Wars dubbed in Navajo and a visit with the # 1 Star Wars memorabilia collector are worthy reads as well.  I browsed chapters and read portions that struck me; when other patrons have had a chance to read it, I'll check it out and read the rest.

This is the first year that I've kept a running tally of my reading (I don't review every book that I read). I'll do a wrap up near the end of the year and reveal the numbers (I'm pretty pleased with the numbers, but I need to do some catching up in YA and I'd like to add a few more titles to the adult fiction section.). There's still a LOT left on my to-be-read list that I haven't read. There are exactly 100 days left until the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other ALA Youth Media Awards are announced! I'm keeping a tally of my picks; you can find them on the right hand side of the blog.

This month's post on the ALSC blog is about forthcoming holiday books.

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, October 17, 2014

Twangy Tales

When I need inspiration for a blog post, I always turn to the Brownie Locks website. The webmaster has curated an impressive amount of authenticated official holidays for a number of years, and I can usually find a fun topic.  When I learned that October is Country Music Month, I knew that I could pull together a number of great reads for children and adults, including books about famous country music stars from Virginia.  Whether you're a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll, these books should entice many readers wanting to learn more about this uniquely American art form:

The queen of board book's country-flavored book and CD set, Frog Trouble, is guaranteed to get little (and big!) toes tapping.  Prominent country musicians such as Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley perform Boynton's original country songs.

Honky Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels presents profiles of fourteen highly influential country musicians, including Virginians Patsy Cline and the Carter Family. Basic biographical facts, little-known tidbits, and lists of most important titles are included in each portrait.

While Honky Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels is an appealing yet fairly straightforward overview of country music, The Long Gone Lonesome History of Country Music goes full-throttle folksy in its presentation of country music's amazing history, from its pre-World War I days to the present-day industry.  Its largely irreverent style (there's a section on hairstyles of famous country musicians!) makes for a rollicking read.

Somebody Everybody Listens To would appeal to YA readers looking for a sweet, fairly "clean" and satisfying read about a talented singer who heads to Nashville after high school graduation. The highs and lows of new independence are acutely depicted.

Want something a bit more in depth?

Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Country Music in America is an engrossing, richly illustrated, and eye-opening history of this unique music form. It's been several years since I've read it, but I remember that it shows unique insights into country music, such as the recent alt-country/outlaw country movement and political aspects of the genre. It's heavily illustrated, as is typical for a DK publication.

I have not read Johnny Cash: The Life, but it's been on my list for a long time.  It was on many "best of 2013" book lists and sounds like an excellent read.  If you want to read the most recent biography available on Johnny Cash, this is the one to read.

I also haven't read The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs, but it looks like a fun read.  If you've ever been curious about the origins of "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" or "Friends in Low Places," this is the book for you.

Many country stars have called Virginia home. If you decide to make a day trip to Winchester and visit Patsy Cline's home, check out I Fall to Pieces: The Music and Life of Patsy Cline or Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline.  (You can also take The Essential Patsy Cline  to enjoy in the car.)  We also have Sweet Dreams, the 1985 biographical movie that earned Jessica Lange an Academy Award nomination.

Did you know that Staunton-based The Statler Brothers were discovered by Johnny Cash? You can read more about them in The Statler Brothers: Random Memories. If you enjoy listening to music while reading, take The Best of the Statler Brothers with you.

Doing the Crooked Road is on my bucket list, but before I visit The Carter Family Fold, I want to read Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music; readers who want an intimate insight into June Carter Cash might be interested in her 1987 autobiography, From the Heart, or Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash, written by her son.

Of course, you have to listen to music in order to learn more about it. Our collection of country music CDs should satisfy most fans!

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, October 10, 2014

Season's Readings

September is a time for back-to-school shopping; for me, September is a time to investigate the forthcoming holiday books. We're well in October, which means that the Halloween and Thanksgiving books are either on our shelves or will be soon. If you saw last week's Wowbrary edition, you saw that we just ordered Christmas and Hanukkah books. If you already have the Halloween or Thanksgiving spirit, or want to plan ahead for a cold winter's reading, keep an eye out for these books:

This little board book is perfect for the littlest trick-or-treaters. The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin, as may guess, is meant to be sung to the tune of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." This little pumpkin must get by a witch and a  goblin before being reunited with his pumpkin family before Halloween.

Every fall, I look for fun and unique Thanksgiving-themed books. Unfortunately, while I can usually find several fine Halloween, Christmas, or Hanukkah books every season (and I am picky about the new holiday books I order, because we already have a a number of outstanding holiday titles on our shelves), the search for interesting new Thanksgiving books usually falls flat. There's only so much you can do with Pilgrims/Native Americans or feasting with family. I'm hoping that The Great Thanksgiving Escape will appeal to both children and adults looking for Thanksgiving stories; the reviews for a family Thanksgiving gathering told from a young boy's point of view have been quite positive: "Kids will identify, and parents will reminisce", according to Kirkus Reviews, while School Library Journal is confident that  readers should "expect requests for second helpings of this holiday treat."

Llama Llama is the "If You Give a ___ a ___" series of the 21st century. There just seems to be no end to Llama Llama's escapades; in Llama Llama Trick or Treat, Llama Llama picks out a costume and has fun trick-or-treating.

I'm always happy to find holiday-related easy readers; they are great draws for beginning readers. Thanksgiving Mice features school-age mice who discover the trials and tribulations of  theater life while putting on a Thanksgiving play. Bethany Roberts has created many holiday-related picture books featuring mice; glad to see that she is delving into easy readers.

Believe it or not, our Christmas and Hanukkah books should arrive by the end of the month; many have an October or even a late September publication date. I'm eagerly anticipating many awesome December reads:

Tony Brenner's And Then Comes Halloween is a terrific Halloween book, so I'm expecting that And Then Comes Christmas will be just as enticing. Except a warm and cozy ode to Christmas joys; School Library Journal calls it "Norman Rockwell-like."

I've no doubt that Jan Brett's latest picture book offering will fly off the shelves once we receive it; the story line of  The Animals' Santa is centered on a bunny (an animal not commonly found in Christmas stories!) who learns about the animals' own Santa through his forest friends.  Publishers Weekly promises that "the dramatic arrival of well worth the wait" (I removed a spoiler).

EllRay Jakes is one of my favorite easy chapter book series, so I'm super stoked that we will receive EllRay Jakes Rocks the Holidays! for our new winter reads.  EllRay Jakes is looking forward to the Christmas festivities at school, until a friend challenges him to emcee and sing "Jingle Bell Rock." Oh, no! Thankfully, EllRay Jakes's father is a big support; you see, EllRay doesn't feel like he really fits in at his school, but his dad encourages him to take pride in his differences.  I love the family relationships depicted in this series, so this is definitely at the top of my holiday reading list!

Is it possible for  Here Comes Santa Cat to be as hysterically funny as Here Comes the Easter Cat? If the sample pages I've seen are any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes!  Unlike in his first outing, this cat isn't trying to actually replace Santa (he learned his lesson when he tried to replace the Easter Bunny). Instead, he's trying to get on Santa's "nice list" by doing a number of good deeds--which fall ridiculously apart.  Cannot wait.

Honeyky Hanukah is a picture book adaptation of Woody Guthrie's song of the same name (written for his wife's Jewish family). Not much story to this; it's a celebration of a very musical and active family Hanukkah celebration (note the single K in the title; Hanukkah can be spelled several ways).  An accompanying CD features the Klezmatics singing the tune.

Lee Bennett Hopkins's collections of poetry are always masterful; this collection features poems told from the perspective of animals that may have been present at the birth of Jesus.  Manger's reviews have been stupendous: "joyful" (Publishers Weekly) and "worth savoring slowly during the Christmas season" (Kirkus Reviews).

Holiday books that feature characters or information from a multicultural point of view always catch my eye; Twas Nochebuena follows a Latino family celebrating Christmas Eve; School Library Journal hails it as "a wonderful way to celebrate and learn about Latino Christmas traditions." I like the sound of that!

New holiday books are always such fun; look for these titles on the "new books" shelves at your local Fauquier County Public Library very soon! (Halloween and Thanksgiving books are already being enjoyed by our patrons.)

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.