Monday, April 16, 2018

Remembering the Past: Books for Ellis Island Family History Day

Did you know that April 17 is "Ellis Island Family History Day?" Every April 17, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Genealogy Society recognize the contributions of Ellis Island immigrants and their descendants to American history and culture. April 17 was chosen because more immigrants were processed through Ellis Island on April 17, 1907 than any other day (11,747).  Over 40% of Americans (100 million people!) can trace their heritage to family members who were processed through Ellis Island. We have some outstanding books on Ellis Island and on immigration in general:

I love the National Geographic Kids's nonfiction readers; finding informational books that are inbetween picture books and longer middle grade reads can be tricky, so I get these readers whenever I can. Ellis Island is an excellent look at the island's history and its importance in American history. What Was Ellis Island? is another appealing look at this important landmark.

If you're ever on Jeopardy! and are asked, "On what island would you find the Statue of Liberty?" Do NOT say, "What is Ellis Island." Alex Trebek will give you a very disappointed look, as Lady Liberty is actually on Liberty Island, and not Ellis Island. Regardless, many Ellis Island immigrants' recollections include their emotions as they saw the Statue of Liberty come into view, so including Her Right Foot is a natural choice. I hope Dave Eggers continues his offbeat nonfiction picture books; I loved his Golden Gate Bridge book, and this one is just as fun and inspiring.

Letters From Rifka has been a Fauquier County Battle of the Books title several times; the students are moved by this eye-opening look at a young girl escaping anti-Semitism in 1919's Russia. While fleeing Russia and enduring the hardships and humilities of immigration, Rifka writes letters to her cousin left behind.

This Land is Our Land: The History of American Immigration is not just an overview of American immigrant groups throughout history, but also government and social responses to specific immigrant groups. Highlighting the period between 1800-1965, this is a unique look at how immigrants have been viewed and have changed our history.

If your young readers are interested in tracing their history (or if you want a fun guide about family history research for yourself!), don't miss National Geographic Kids Guide to Genealogy, which we'll receive  shortly. We've needed an updated genealogy guide for children that includes information about modern genealogy tips and tricks, as well as suggestions for creating a family tree, interviewing family members, and more, so this will definitely come in handy!

We Came to America  is a stirring tribute to the many groups who have made their home in America (including those who were enslaved). Whether they came to fulfill big dreams, or were fleeing persecution, their courage and determination are celebrated in Faith Ringgold's beautiful picture book.

Finally, if you want an in-depth and powerful read for adults, City of Dreams: The 400 Year Epic History of Immigrant New York  is for you. While overall histories of immigrant groups are detailed, this also includes personal histories of famous immigrants, starting with one of our recently "rediscovered" Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. If you're like me and enjoy personal looks at history (rather than books about wars and battles), you will enjoy this one.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Library Love: Books for National Library Week (April 8-14)

To celebrate National Library Week, I've decided to share my favorite books about libraries and librarians:

So, every Christmas/Hanukkah we have a "wish tree" on which we place cards highlighting books that patrons can donate to the library. Bob the Alien Discovers the Dewey Decimal System was a book that I saw mentioned on a library blog; the blogger wrote that she uses it all the time with school/Scout/etc groups that visit the library. However, it was quite pricey than what we normally spend for a picture book ($25!), so I added it to the tree and hoped that a kind patron would donate it. Much to my delight, someone did, and I can't wait to share it. Yes, it's not something that a child might pick up on his/her own, (a girl guides an alien through the Dewey Decimal System), but it really explains the DDC in a way that children can grasp (and the alien aspect grabs their attention).

Book Uncle and Me  is an inspiring look at the impact a small lending library has on a young girl and her community; when the mayor tries to shut it down, the children organize to save it. If you're looking for a book set in a non-United States setting that is realistic but not too overpowering for young readers, try this one.

Even the most experienced story time presenter knows that story time can quickly get out of hand if something unexpected happens (even the smallest thing, like another child crying). Luckily, I've never had chickens overtake my story time, but if I do, I hope I can handle it with as much creativity and finesse as the librarian in Chicken Story Time.

Dinosaur loves going to the library, especially story time, even if he doesn't present the very best behavior when he is there! Luckily, the story time librarian knows how to handle his roaring in a way that makes him feel welcomed, but helps him understand the value of softer roars. Dinosaur vs. the Library continues Bob Shea's popular dinosaur series that helps teach children the ins and outs of potty training, going to bed, and more.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is one of the most fascinating yet seemingly forgotten aspects of the Great Depression; one of the most popular programs was the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, which employed women (of whom many were the sole breadwinner in their family) to travel the sometimes hard terrain of Kentucky to bring children's books, recreational reading, and books on current events, religion, biographies,magazines,  recipes, and informational pamphlets (some of the most popular books were recipe/home economics scrapbooks that patrons and librarians created and contributed to), as well as literacy classes.  Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky  is a beautiful tribute to the women who walked and rode through punishing natural conditions to bring literacy and recreation to one of the most hard-hit areas during the Depression, and how they managed to overcome communities' suspicions of "outsiders" and "do-gooders." That Book Woman is a sweet picture book fictional story about a young boy's interactions with a pack horse librarian. While The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish isn't about the pack horse librarians, it does feature a similar program that brought home economics education to isolated areas during the Depression.

I hope Angela Johnson continues her adorable Lottie Paris picture book series; Lottie Paris and the Best Place  is naturally, my favorite of the two we have so far! Lottie Paris's favorite place is the library; one day, she makes a new friend who also loves books, which makes it even cooler.

Happy National Library Week!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

Monday, April 02, 2018

Play Ball! Books About Baseball

Now that winter has said its final goodbyes, it's time to turn our attention to spring matters. For baseball fans, one of the best days of the year is Opening Day. Spring training has concluded, and it's time to get on the long journey to October. To get your mind into the game, here are some of my favorite baseball-themed books for fans of all ages:

Whenever I see a list of "best movies about sports," I always look to see if  A League of Their Own ("There's no crying in baseball!") is included. If not, I know it's a trash list and move on. The story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League ("We're all for one, we're one for all, we're All-Americans!") is one of the most awesome sports eras in American history; if you're only familiar with the movie, then you definitely need to read  A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. (Someone needs to write a good nonfiction book about the league for adults!)

If you need a great baseball read aloud, Baseball Is-- should be at the top of your list. Not only does it cover the excitement of spending the day at the ballpark and watching your team (while dreaming of a World Series win complete with a ticker-tape parade!), but it also incorporates the rules of the game, the people that make the whole game happen (players, those in the dugout, the announcer, the vendors, and even the bat boy), and the history of the game, including the Negro Leagues and the women's league.

Bluffton: My Summers With Buster is one of my favorite graphic novels; while it doesn't have the excitement of the more popular superhero graphic novels, it's a deep and memorable one for readers who like character-driven stories. When the vaudeville players come to Henry Harrison's town, he is fascinated by their unusual lives; he also forms a friendship with the child actor, Buster Keaton, who longs to play with other children and happily joins their baseball games (Buster Keaton later grew up to be one of the major stars in silent movies).

Get a Hit, Mo! continues one of my favorite early reader series, starring a determined young man who makes his mark in his various sports teams. Mo bats last and always plays right field (meaning that he's not likely to catch a ball), but longs to help his team win a game.

Growing Up Pedro tells the inspiring story of Pedro Martinez, a Dominican born player who led the Red Sox to a World Series and dreamed of playing with his brother, Ramon, in the World Series. This is a heartwarming story about their brotherly bond and their climb from their impoverished childhood to baseball greatness.

Sharon Robinson has written a number of children's books about her father, including Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America. This includes family memorabilia and pictures, so it's a standout among Jackie Robinson books for young readers.

Out of Jonah Winter's sports biographies, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates is probably one of my top two favorites (my top favorite is the last book in this post). The incredible and tragically cut short life of "The Great One" who became a legendary player and humanitarian is beautifully told in this picture book biography. MLB teams honor Clemente every year with a special "Roberto Clemente Day," on which they present their nominees for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award (and usually engage in community service work on or around the day).

William Hoy dreamed of playing in the major leagues, but options for any kind of work were very limited for deaf people in the 1860s and 1870s. When an amateur coach obseved his baseball skills, however, he started his journey from amateur clubs, to the minor leagues, playing for such teams as the Cincinnati Reds, the Washington Senators, and the Louisville Colonels (along with Honus Wagner).   Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy relates the difficult yet victorious career of William Hoy, introducing this little-known player to new audiences.

The history of the Negro League is both parts shameful and inspiring, one which all baseball fans should know. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball  features Kadir Nelson's gorgeous writing and illustrations to tell the rich and complex history of the league. It's quite lyrical and written directly to the reader; if you'd prefer a more standard historical look about the league, try Black Diamond by the formidable McKissacks or The Story of Negro League Baseball.

Finally, Jonah Winter's You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? is one of my favorite baseball biographies (as well as my favorite Winter book). Koufax faced anti-Semitism during his career, struggled with shyness, and had a tempestous relationship with the Brooklyn Dodgers. His dream of playing in the World Series came to fruition in 1965, but at a price; as an observant Jew, he ultimately declined to play. This is a fun read aloud, but requires some practice, as its written in an "old timey" radio announcer voice.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

Monday, March 26, 2018

Time to Celebrate: Books for Easter and Passover

With Passover starting March 30 and Easter being celebrated on April 1, it's time to discuss my favorite books for both holidays!

If you need something more indepth than your basic introductory children's book about Passover, consider ABC Passover Hunt . Published by Kar-Ben Publishing, one of the leading publishers of Judaica for children, this was written for children that are probably familiar with the basic aspects of the observation.

I normally do not like revisions of fairy tales, but The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah is such a charming version that I have to include it. Little Red Hen is preparing for the Seder, but none of her friends are interested in helping. Of course, it's another story when it's time to eat! Rather than shooing them away, Little Red Hen remembers that in the spirit of Passover, she is supposed to invite anyone who is hungry to share the meal. (The friends do help with the dishes!) This includes a glossary of Yiddish terms and a recipe for matzah.

I adore The Passover Lamb; drawn from the author's own experience, it's a great choice if you don't need books *about* Passover, but rather Passover-related stories. It's Miriam's turn to ask the Four Questions during the Seder (the responsibility of the youngest child once she/he is old enough to memorize them), but the arrival of triplet lambs means that her family must care for them around the clock (and miss her grandparents' Seder). Luckily, Miriam is smart enough to figure out a way to take care of the newborn lambs and observe Passover!

Celebrating Easter With Colored Eggs, Flowers, and Prayer, part of National Geographic's excellent Holidays Around the World series, features Easter celebrations in many diverse nations (there's also one for Passover). If you need a more compact overview of Easter, Gail Gibbons's Easter book is worth a look.

Here Comes the Easter Cat is one of Deborah Underwood's hilarious Cat holiday themed picture books. Cat is super jealous of all the attention, fame, and glory received by the Easter Bunny, so he decides to take over. Turns out that being the Easter Bunny is hard work (and doesn't leave time for multiple naps)! Preschool children and above (even up to third grade, although they might not admit it) will find this hilarious. Younger children will enjoy Seeking a Bunny.

Finally, if you've taught toddler/preschool Sunday School classes or teach Bible stories in your own home, you know that the basic elements of the Nativity story are usually graspable at that age. Good Friday and Easter/Resurrection Sunday involve much more complex theology for young children to work through. Ready, Set Find Easter presents the events of Holy Week in a "search and find" format, making this a great selection for Sunday School classes or something to bring along while waiting for services to start (or going to brunch/lunch after).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring Into A New Read: New and Forthcoming Reads

I'm still trying to catch up on books published in 2017 (especially adult fiction and nonfiction), but bring on the Spring 2018 books!

Children's Books:

Aru Shah and the End of Time is the opening title in Rick Riordan's "Rick Riordan Presents" imprint, which will publish fantasy titles by authors from underrepresented communities incorporating their cultures' mythology/folklore into their stories. I'm super excited, since fantasy can certainly use more diversity. This has already received outstanding reviews!

Erin Peabody continues her awesome Behind the Legend series with Dragons; each title examines the history of legendary figures/creatures such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, unicorns, and more. (Have my fingers crossed for a UFO/aliens title soon!)

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors was immediately popular at all three of our library locations when we received our copies, so I'm sure that Crescent Moons and Painted Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes will be just as successful. Author Hena Khan is also the author of one of my favorite 2017 reads, Amina's Voice.

I adore the Jasmine Toguchi series; it's one of my new favorites. Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl continues the series that introduces a piece of Japanese culture into each story (this one involves a taiko drum).

Love Double Dutch! follows Kayla, a double dutch competitor, whose competition days are in jeopardy when she moves to North Carolina. Doreen Spicer-Donnelly created the Disney Channel's Jump In movie, so she knows her double dutch stuff.

Martial arts figure skating, people! I am definitely ready for Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, which has received amazing reviews.

I'm sorry that Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship won't be here in time for our Thunder Dog related programs about senses and animal careers for children/teens, because I know it's going to be a massive hit. Rescue had plans to be a Seeing Eye Dog, but the powers-that-be decided that he should be a service dog instead. When he meets Jessica, a young girl whose life has changed dramatically and suddenly, he realizes and understands his new purpose as they ultimately rescue each other. This is based on the real-life experiences of Jessica Kensky, who underwent double leg amputee surgeries (she and her co-author/husband are survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing; the background of her injuries are discussed in the author's endnote and not in the main narrative).

I'm enjoying HarperCollins Christian's relaunch of the Faithgirlz brand; while not great literature, they are fun reads for those looking for contemporary Christian titles written for tweens. Shining Night continues the Lena in the Spotlight series, which features a young girl who finds fame after starring in a popular Christian film (much like Alena Pitts, the young co-author of the series).

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of "The House That Jack Built" stories as read alouds. They tend to aggravate and bore me as I read them aloud. However, I've looked at several excerpts from This is the Nest That Robin Built that it might be an exception (it's also by the fabulous Denise Fleming).

Tournament Trouble starts a new series (Cross Ups) about video game tournaments; will be popular with many readers!


I am normally not a big science fiction/fantasy fan, but we have three new/upcoming YA fantasy titles that I cannot wait to read:

The Belles features a society in which beauty is tightly controlled; people are born naturally grey and must rely on The Belles to transform their looks. This has already shot up the bestseller charts AND has amazing reviews.

By the time you read this, Children of Blood and Bone will have debuted its #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. This West African inspired fantasy has already been hailed by Entertainment Weekly and Teen Vogue, so it should be a monster hit.

I'm not sure what to expect when I read Dread Nation, but having followed Justina Ireland on Twitter during the final publication process (and its pre-publication buzz), I'm ready for this Civil War alternative history horror novel to be a  knockout read.

I really enjoyed Siobhan Vivian's The List, so I'm super excited about Stay Sweet. It's a story about an ice cream parlor in the summer; who wouldn't want to read that?

Adult Fiction/Nonfiction:

I'll be Gone in the Dark is also burning up the bestseller lists and racking up superb reviews (this is why snobbery about bestsellers annoys me, but don't get me started). Michelle McNamara was investigating one of the most notorious cold cases in California history when she suddenly died two years ago; her book was completed by her lead researcher. Stephen King thinks it's an amazing read.

The mania over Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton musical has inspired an uptick in Hamilton-related books (including YA author Melissa de la Cruz's series). My Dear Hamilton follows Eliza Schuyler Hamilton's coming of age during the American Revolution; the colonial and Revolution time periods are some of my favorite time periods, but not a very popular time for historical fiction, so I'm super excited.

On Brassard's Farm is reportedly an honest look at farm life, which I'd much rather read than the umpteenth story about buying land and interacting with the quirky local people (doubly so if it's set in the South or abroad).

One of my very favorite books when I was a middle school student was this big, beautiful book about Andrew Lloyd Webber's life and career up to the Aspects of Love musical/end of second marriage time period (I was a musicals-obsessed child, but not so much anymore). It was gorgeous, and since the man has had a rather tumultuous personal and business life, somewhat revealing (Oh, we have a copy! If I didn't have a million books checked out, I would look at it for nostalgia reasons. I recommend it.). I just checked out Unmasked and I so want to read it immediately, but I have other things to finish first. Memoirs can be tricky things as opposed to biographies, as you're relying on someone's personal recollections and explanations of one's tumultuous personal and business life, but can still be worthwhile reads (even if you're side-eyeing what you're reading).

Varina is a historical novel about the (much younger) wife of Jefferson Davis; I had a mixed reaction when I read a recent transcript of a recent GalleyChat praising the book (Civil War historical fiction is not really my thing), but I'm going to give it a try, since many on GalleyChat loved it.

To keep up with the latest additions to our collection, subscribe to Wowbrary!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Healthy Habits: Books for National Nutrition Month

Making healthy eating a mainstay can be difficult at any age, much less with children who don't understand how good food fuels your body and mind. Luckily, we have a great collection of enticing books that might help!

DK is one of my top favorite publishers for children and adults; they can make any topic fun and exciting.  Are You What You Eat? A Guide to What's On Your Plate and Why! is filled with intriguing facts about food and nutrition (along with interactive quizzes), but as you can guess from the cover, it's laced with plenty of humor.

One of my favorite alphabet books (and Lois Ehlert books) is Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables are represented, from apricots to zucchini.

I love cross-cultural books; DK's Children Just Like Me series is exceptional.  Food Like Mine introduces readers to foods commonly eaten in different countries , organized by common ingredients such as rice, wheat, corn, potatoes, and "other staples" (milk, chicken, plantains, chickpeas, etc).

Growing Vegetable Soup is another gem from Lois Ehlert; like many of her other books, illustrations are notated throughout the story (tools, seeds, etc). From sowing the seeds, weeding, harvesting, washing, chopping, and finally cooking the soup, this is a fabulous illustration of food production for very young listeners.

We are experiencing an explosion of beautifully created board books made specifically for the board book market (rather than picture books squished into board book format). Jane Foster's books for infants, Jennifer Holm's new comics series, Nina Laden's interactive stories, Once Upon a World's multicultural fairy tales, the American Museum of Natural History's alphabet books, and my current obsession, Jessie Ford's "Mrs. Peanuckle's" seriesMrs. Peanuckle's Vegetable Alphabet is larger than the average board book, which makes this readily available for sharing with a group. This goes beyond your standard "A is for apple," as fiddleheads, jicama, and kale are included in this adorable read (with little facts about each vegetable or vegetable-related entry included).

There's not much story to Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant, but it's an infectiously fun read aloud celebration of vegetables, combined with April Pulley Sayre's outstanding photography (still waiting for a Caldecott Medal committee to recognize her day, perhaps!)

A rainy summer day might not be an exciting day for play, but it's a wonderful day for thirsty plants and roots! Rainbow Stew follows three children and their grandfather pick vegetables and recreate his famous "Rainbow Stew." The vibrant illustrations of grandfather's vegetable garden and his soup will make you crave a hearty bowl of soup, regardless of the weather.

Poor T. Veg. While the other dinosaurs want to eat meat all the time, he'd rather enjoy colorful carrots and other vegetables. When the other dinosaurs make fun of him, he retreats to find other like-minded dinosaurs (and also proves to the carnivorous dinosaurs that vegetables make him healthy and strong!). T. Veg: The Story of a Carrot-Crunching Dinosaur is a funny story without being too heavy-handed or preachy about vegetarianism.

The little girl in Grace Lin's charming The Ugly Vegetables wishes her mother's garden looked like the other gardens in the neighborhood, with their bright and colorful flowers. Instead, her mother's garden is filled with vegetables that are staples in Chinese cuisine, which her mother assures her are better than flowers. When her mother's delicious cooking fills the neighborhood with its tempting aroma, she is finally convinced that her mother's garden is the best on the block (as are her neighbors).

If you need a basic informational introduction to vegetables, Gail Gibbons's The Vegetables We Eat is a perfect fit (as are her other basic informational books for young readers).

Looking for cookbooks? Check out the J 641.5 section.

For more information about National Nutrition Month, go to the Academy of Nutriton and Dietetics's site about the annual observance.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library