Monday, September 17, 2018

Fall for a Great Read: Books for Fall

Although it's currently cloudy, windy, and rainy with a chance of heavy thunderstorms and wind this weekend due to Hurricane Florence, fall weather is (hopefully!) soon approaching. Seasonal books are among my favorite type of books to read, and autumn-themed books are among the most beautifully illustrated in our collection. Here are some outstanding picks to get you ready for fall:

Apple picking and visting the pumpkin patch are classic fall outings, as sweetly explored in Apples and Pumpkins. Since this ends with children trick-or-treating, this is a great title for anyone who wants Halloween stories that don't focus on the spooky side of the holiday.

The Busy Little Squirrel was one of my fall story time staples when I was a youth services librarian (as were Nancy Tafuri's other titles). This one is actually one of Tafuri's longer stories; we follow a busy squirrel as he prepares for fall, not even having time to explore with other animals. Tafuri's trademark bold, distinct, and clear illustration paired with succinct text makes this a winner for young toddlers as well as preschoolers.

April Pulley Sayre is one of my favorite picture book creators (hopefully, a Caldecott committee will recognize her photography!), and her recent seasonal titles have been absolutely gorgeous. Full of Fall focuses on the transformation of trees in the fall, with text simple enough for preschoolers and kindergartners to understand.

In the Middle of Fall continues Kevin Henkes's "line" of fabulous seasonal picture books. If you need a general informational book about fall for toddlers or preschoolers, don't miss this one.

Although there's still a long way to go, I am thrilled to see more children's and YA (and even adult!) books that feature modern day Native Americans (rather than nonfiction titles produced for school report writing). We Are Grateful: Ostsaliheliga follows a Cherokee community as they observe celebrations throughout the year. This has earned multiple strong reviews (even starred ones!), so I am eager to read this one.

If you want a general seasonal book, rather than one that just focuses on fall, definitely check out Wonderfall. As seasons change and animals, people, and even cars pass by, a tree undergoes its unique changes throughout the year.

Yellow Time is one of my favorite fall titles in recent years; the yellow illustrations are simply gorgeous. You can use this in late fall or even early winter, as animals' preparations for winter are a key part of the story.

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, September 03, 2018

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Believe it or not, fall is on its way (and it's hard to believe it when it feels like 100 degrees). If you're a college football fan, this past weekend was probably a fun one for you (unless your team lost...but remember that it's still early in the season! This could be your year!). With this upcoming weekend being the start of NFL season, football fans are definitely ready for some action. Why not spend some time during commercials reading a fun football book?

Kids love books about lists and fun facts (I had a very favorite "book of lists" that I repeatedly checked out of the library when I was a child), so 1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything Football  should be just the thing for young football fantatics. Everything from "Greatest Rushers," "Best Fans," and even "Touchdown Celebrations" are creatively detailed.

I love finding biographies that feature people that I (and perhaps many others) have never heard about; Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery  is one of my favorite recently published biographies. Growing up in 1940s North Carolina, becoming an artist wasn't viewed as a viable career path for Ernie Barnes. His football finesse caught the attention of the NFL, in which he played for a number of teams before finally retiring in 1965. His second career as an artist was enormously successful; in addition to painting for the NFL, he was also the official sports artist for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the commissioned artist for the NBA's 50th anniversary celebration, and also painted scenes that celebrated everyday African-American people.

The Extraordinary Life of a Mediocre Jock introduces us to Flex, a seventh grader who is adequately average in every way, including football. Like many seventh grade boys, he wishes he was a bit more cool, more athletic, and not so awkward around girls. This is published by Harvest House, one of the bigger Christian publishers, and has been quite popular at our libraries!

Serious football fans (including adults) will definitely want to pick up Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Football . This dive into football history covers the history of the Super Bowl up to XLIX (Seahawks vs. Patriots); interspersed between chapters about each Super Bowl are intriguing top 10 lists and a lengthy timeline. 

If you grew up reading sports stories, you probably read books by Matt Christopher; while we still have several books by him, they are admittedly not as popular as they used to be. Those interested in modern sports chapter books should try Jake Maddox; featuring both boys and girls, these high-interest chapter books cover a variety of sports, including swimming, skateboarding, figure skating, and yes, football

Want more football fun facts? Visit the J 796.332 section for more enticing reads. 

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Last of the Summer Reads: Recent Reads in August and Late July

I hope you read some fantastic reads this summer! If you're looking for a very random list of books for adults and children, today is your lucky day. Here's what captured my attention in late July and early August:

Books for Adults: 

I'm working on biography/history/historical fiction ideas for a book club, so that's a large bulk of my adult fiction/nonfiction reading at the moment. Ali: A Life was published last year, to stellar reviews and several spots on "best of 2017" lists, so it's been on my radar for some time. I know nothing about wrestling and knew little about Ali's life before reading this; I was gobsmacked while reading this. Could not WAIT to get back to it at the end of the day. It's a doorstopper, but I flew through it as fast as you can do with a 500+ page biography. Eig's depiction of Ali's early days as a young superstar (and the Caucasian policeman who changed the course of his life and got him involved in wrestling), the tug-of-war between Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X for Ali's devotion (and his eventual falling out with the Nation of Islam), his complicated relationships with women and his children, and his outrageous public bragging (and poems!) are told in fascinating detail (Ali "threw shade" before we called it such a thing). However, what makes this such an extraordinary read is that, unlike many lengthy biographies, it doesn't get bogged down near the end. Ali's final wrestling matches, in which he was physically unable to defend himself, are agonizing and heartbreaking to read (and learning about his many enablers is infuriating). His evolution into a goodwill ambassador and the change in public opinion about him is compelling, and his triumphant appearance at the 1996 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies (which is pretty much what I remembered about him before reading this) is breathaking to read, and vividly brought back that moment to me. One of the best biographies I've read in years.

If you've never read a full-length adult biography of Martin Luther King Jr, then I would recommend reading one before choosing The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr (which is not a lengthy read). Jason Sokol's book is not intended to be an all-encompassing biography; rather, it's a jaw-dropping look at King's reputation among different groups before his death, the immediate affect of King's assassination, the gradual change in public opinion in the decades after his death, and the fight to establish a public holiday in his honor. Definitely one to read if you want an insightful look at King's legacy. (And if you want a good overall biography, consider Martin Luther King Jr, part of the excellent Penguin Lives series.

Books for Children: 

I love the fact that we are seeing a bit more books featuring contemporary Native Americans in both adult (such as There There), young adult (an upcoming Cynthia Leitich Smith title!) and children's literature, such as Bowwow Powwow: bagosenjige-niimi'idim. This gorgeous and sweet picture book follows a young girl attending a powwow with her uncle: enjoying the delicious food, respecting the veterans as they march in the parade, and admiring the jingle dancers makes for a fun and informative day for this young Ojibwa girl. 

People Don't Bite People  wasn't on the new shelf for very long (an hour or so) before it was swooped up by a parent. "We need this one!" While biting is absolutely a common thing for very young children, it's an unsettling event when it does happen. This reinforces the message that biting is a "no no" in a fun way that can spur further conversation; it's a great read aloud in rhyme.

Pie is for Sharing has been very popular all summer long, and for good reason: it depicts a sweet (pun intended!) Independence Day picnic filled with friendship, fun, and community bonding. Not only is pie for sharing, but so are balls, trees, and time. This is also beautifully and fully multicultural (as opposed to having one token ethnic character).

Princess Hair is an adorable and much needed gem, as it celebrates the varieties of African-American hair. Long, short, curly, straightened, braided--each little girl's hair is featured and admired. My Hair is a Garden (also a 2018 release) is a superb read for slightly older children, as it involves an actual storyline (and facts/tips on black hair care at the end). There's also the fabulous Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (and one of the 2018 Caldecott Honor titles), which honors black barbershops and African-American male children and tweens.

Finding books for middle schoolers can be rough; very often, they're still inbetween choosing books from both the children's and YA sections. If you have a middle schooler who wants to read realistic fiction with some slight romantic content, look into the Swirl series. Pumpkin Spice Secrets follows two girls as they deal with having a crush on the same boy, and the inevitable drama that follows. As you can guess, pumpkin spice latte figures into the storyline. Each Swirl novel is independent from each other, so reading order doesn't matter. Not great literature, but fulfills a need for fun middle-school books that isn't too mature.

The Squirrels' Busy Year  is perfect for all those "learning about seasons" units that are popular in the fall. Through the activities of busy squirrels, readers (and listeners) learn about the changes in weather throughout the seasons. Cute, cute, cute.

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

Monday, August 13, 2018

What's Cooking? Books for National Chef Appreciation Week

Since 2005, the third week of August has been set aside to honor chefs from all walks of life during "National Chef Appreciation Week."   It's hard to beat a great food-related read, so I've gathered some awesome chef-related titles guaranteed to entice your taste buds:

Books for Adults:

While Kitchen Confidential is probably Anthony Bourdain's most famous title (and the one that spawned an entire subgenre of books chronicling the underbelly of the culinary world), I find A Cook's Tour: In Search of a Perfect Meal to be equally fascinating. Bourdain was well-known for his deep appreciation/respect for international cultures and cuisines, which is memorably explored in this unique read.

If you love reading about food from international cultures, you'll also want to pick up Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. Although Sasha Martin's experiment of cooking a meal from all 195 countries (at the time of publication) is intriguing, her recollections of a rough and unstable childhood are heartbreaking and moving.

Food science-y books are perenially popular, but it will be hard to top On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. If you read the original back in the 1980s, you'll want to read the fully revised 2004 edition, as our knowledge of nutrition has changed since then. Everything you'd ever want to know about the evolution of dairy animals (including the structure of ice cream, buttermilk, etc), rice cooking techniques and customs, the different types of syrup production, and much more is covered in exhaustive detail. If this is a bit intimidating, try America's Test Kitchen's The Science of Good Cooking (or anything from America's Test Kitchen, as their books/magazines will go into the hows and whys of their recipes).

I love presidential history; not just about the presidents, but about their families and those that interacted with them. The President's Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas is a revealing look at the African-American chefs, butlers, and servers who have worked for presidential families since the first days of the republic.

Children's Books:

Even if you're not into culinary history, you're probably familiar with Julia Child, who popularized French cuisine to American audiences. Child's long remarkable life is worth exploring: Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child is a delightful picture book, while Erin Hagar's biography (in graphic novel style) is a great read for older readers. Adults wanting an in-depth read should check out Dearie.

Want to add some local flavor to your culinary reads? Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis introduces readers to Edna Lewis, the granddaughter of enslaved African-Americans and author of one of the classics of Southern cookbooks, The Taste of Southern Cooking. Lewis's interests in locally-grown food, preserving regional recipies, and keeping the distance between farm to table predate the modern "farm-to-table" movement by several generations; this is an engaging picture book biography of a remarkable woman.

Roy Choi's passion for "food that isn't fancy" and bringing  the food traditions of his native Korea to literally the "man on the street" is celebrated in this picture book biography of one of the first modern food truck pioneers.   If you're in the mood for a picture book biography that's far from ordinary, Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix should be on your list.

Chinese restaurants, from the corner Chinese-American family supper stop to restaurants featuring one of the many unique cultures of China, are not considered exotic by the vast majority of Americans, but it was a different story in the late 1950s-1960s. Joyce Chen's escape from China during the early days of the Communist takeover, the establishment of her first restaurant, to the creation of her cookbooks and her PBS cooking show are admiringly captured in Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling From Beijing to Cambridge.

Although I haven't finished the series, I routinely recommend the Next Best Junior Chef trilogy to anyone looking for an entertaining read. Mentioning that it's about kids on a cooking reality show contest never fails to catch the attention of both kids and parents! Cooking tips and techniques are featured in each title.

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, August 06, 2018

Back to School: Books for A New School Year

Can you believe that summer is nearly over? It's almost time to pack away the swimsuits and bring out the backpacks. Books with school themes never go out of style, so there's always plenty of awesome school-related books from which to choose! Here are a mix of new and older books for students of all ages:

Victoria Jamieson followed her Newbery Honor recipient, Roller Girl, with another pitch-perfect graphic novel for middle grade readers, All's Faire in Middle School follows 11 year old Imogene as she enters a new world of public middle school after being homeschooled; with her active participation in Renaissance Faires, she sticks out among her classmates. New friendships, adversaries, parental conflict, and everyday growing pains are movingly explored in this touching (and funny!) graphic novel.

Doreen Cronin continues her hilarious "Click, Clack" picture book series with Click, Clack, Quack to School. The beleaguered Farmer Brown and his mischievous farm animals have been invited to "Farm Day" at the local school; although they have been instructed about their best school manners, you can bet that things go a little haywire!

Itsy Bitsy School Bus  is a cute take on the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" fingerplay, following a bus as it navigates a busy first day of school.

Lola is super excited about her first day at doggie daycare--but also a bit nervous and overwhelmed, like anyone would be in a new situation. Lola Goes to School captures this adorable Yorkshire Terrier's antics in enchanting photographs.

Mermaids are perenially popular, so I was super excited to find Mermaid School. As you can guess, this follows a young mermaid as she experiences her first day of school.

Rain School has been one of my top favorite "back to school" related stories for years. Inspired by former Peace Corps volunteer James Rumford's experiences in Chad, children prepare for their new school year by literally constructing their school from mud. This is a delightful and eye-opening read aloud for K-3 students, and has the added benefit of being an Afrocentric story filled with joy and positivity rather than tragedy.

I love DK's"Children Just Like Me" series, as I do any beautifully produced cross-cultural book for children. A School Like Mine:  A Celebration of Schools Around the World examines the school lives of children around the world, from South Korea, Egypt, the United States, and more.

School's First Day of School  takes the very common "first day of school jitters" theme and turns it around to present the school's perspective. This cute but not corny story about a school that wonders if the students will like it and treat it nicely is charming and unique.

This is My Home, This is My School  features a typical homeschooling day in a loving and active family, through the eyes of one of the young sons. This is a companion to the equally delightful Building Our House, featuring the same family.

Hope everyone has a great first day of school!

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

Monday, July 30, 2018

Say "Aloha" to Another Summer: Books About Hawaii

It's hard to believe that we will wrap up our summer reading program on Saturday, August 4. We are excited to bring The Goodlife Theater to our libraries for a fantastic puppet show featuring Hawaiian legends and folktales. To get us into a Hawaiian state of mind, let's look at some awesome books about our 50th state:

Although Dumpling Soup is set just before New Year's, it's a sweet story for any time of the year. When Marisa is allowed to make the dumplings for her grandmother's famous New Year's soup, she worries that she will mess it up! Luckily, everything turns out fine, and New Year's is celebrated with fireworks, family time, and delicious dumpling soup. Like many Hawaiian families, Marisa's family is ethnically mixed, including Korean, Hawaiian, and Anglo heritage.

Froggy is super stoked for his Hawaiian vacation (who wouldn't be)? Surfing, learning the hula dance, swimming in the's going to be a great time. However, as anyone who's familiar with the Froggy series would know, Froggy gets into some mischief in paradise! Froggy Goes to Hawaii will be enjoyed by both Froggy veterans and those new to the series.

Luka's Quilt is another charming granddaughter-grandmother story, although not without some drama! Luka's grandmother is making her a traditional Hawaiian quilt for Lei Day, but they can't agree on the colors that she should use. When the disagreement turns to hurt feelings, it jeopardizes the fun family and community spirit of the day. Thankfully, compromises are made just in time for the celebration.

Trickster tales are universal, so it's always interesting to spot similiarities and differences in various stories. Pig-Boy is quite the shape-shifter, and can avoid trouble just in time, even when facing the king or the goddess of fire (Pele), just as his grandmother has taught him. If you're looking for a strong moral lesson at the end, you'll probably be disappointed; if you just want a rollicking (and very colorful!) story that incorporates the Hawaiian landscape (volcanoes!) and Hawaiian mythology, pick up Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale From Hawai'i.

Princess Ka'iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People is a compelling and eye-opening book at the last heir to the Hawaiian monarchy, who tried to appeal for the Hawaiian people's sovereignty. The annexation of Hawaii is a complicated and difficult subject; this is an ideal read for middle-grade students. Younger readers should consider The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii.  Kaiulani: The People's Princess, part of the excellent Royal Diaries series, is also a worthwhile read.

The Shark King features the popular Hawaiian tale of Nanaue. Nanaue has a human mother and a shark father (like Pig-Boy, the Shark King is a shape-shifter); as a result, he finds it difficult to fit in with his human community, and longs to find his father. Author-illustrator R. Kikuo Johnson grew up in Maui and created his unique spin on the Shark King folktale.

Surfer of the Century: The Life of  Duke Kahanamoku

Hawaii is a surfer's paradise, so it's no surprise that the surfer considered the "father of modern surfing" was a Hawaiian native. Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku introduces readers to this multiple Olympic swimming medalist, actor, and sheriff whose surfing exhibitions made surfing a popular worldwide sport. This gorgeously illustrated picture book is perfect for those who love "meeting" new important figures through biographies.

Aloha to SRP 2018!

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, July 23, 2018

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: Books for Shark Week

As 2018 is the 30th anniversary of Shark Week, Discovery Channel is planning lots of fun new shows (and bringing back some old favorites) for this year's celebration. They're also incorporating more educational aspects (especially the importance of conservation efforts) to programming, in response to recent criticism. If you're planning to tune in, here are some top-rated titles about these magnificent creatures. Although they were written for children, readers of all ages will definitely find new amazing tidbits and fun facts: 

Young independent readers ready to tackle short chapters in a nonfiction reader should pick up Hungry, Hungry Sharks. This is a basic overview of sharks, their characteristics, eating habits, and more. 
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916  by Lauren Tarshis ; illustrated by Scott Dawson. book cover

I'm a huge fan of the I Survived series, and hope Lauren Tarshis never tires of writing them.Reluctant readers and avid readers alike devour these fast-paced historical fiction novels. I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 features the terrifying shark attacks on the New Jersey coast through the experiences of a young boy. 

If you want a sweet nonfiction read aloud, Little Shark is your best bet. Written by master informational picture book creator Anne Rockwell, this is an engaging look at shark life through the eyes of a small shark. 

On the other hand, if you want something purely fun and creative, don't miss Shark vs. Train. A shark and a train compete in various contests to decide who's the strongest of them all. 

Published in 2016, Shark Week: Everything You Need to Know is a browser's delight of all things shark related, complete with amazing photographs. Everything you ever wanted to know about sharks--from their defense mechanisms to their everyday habits--is covered. 

While modern nonfiction books about sharks usually include information about shark conservation, If Sharks Disappeared is a serious nonfiction picture book just about the importance of shark conservation.  Readers wanting more in-depth information should check out Mission Shark Rescue: All About Sharks and How to Save Them; published by National Geographic, it is a mix of intriguing information about sharks, and practical things we can all do to help sharks have a healthier enviornment. 

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting With the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands recevied a Robert F. Sibert Honor (which honors outstanding children's informational books) citation in 2014. It's a captivating look at the great white sharks that live only 26 miles from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and the scientists that study them. 

Sharks : Nature's Perfect Hunter by Joe Flood. book cover
The creativity and ingenuity in children's nonfiction publishing is astounding; I don't know if there's been a better time for attractive, unique, and fascinating informational books for children and teens, including board books. Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunter is one of the latest entries in the super-popular Science Comics, which presents science topics in a comics/graphic novel format. Not only does Sharks:  Nature's Perfect Hunter cover the basics in-and-outs of shark life, but it also introduces readers to various species of sharks, how they adapt to environments, and more. 

Finally, National Geographic's The Ultimate Book of Sharks is another fact-filled browsable delight of everything you would ever want to know about sharks, complete with National Geographic's legendary photographs. 

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library