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Elizabeth Kennedy

Children's Books

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A Classic With A Good Message

Wednesday April 23, 2014
Miss Rumphius picture book cover artWhenever I visit (or even think about) Deer Isle, Maine in early summer, I am reminded of the classic children's picture book Miss Rumphius. Why? That's the time of year the lupines are in bloom, and lupines play a key role in the story of Miss Alice Rumphius and her efforts to figure out a way to accomplish her grandfather's charge that she "do something to make the world more beautiful." The book's message - that each individual has a role to play in making our world better - is a good one and presented in this book in a way that even young children can grasp. At the end of the review by librarian Nancy Snyder, I have included photos of lupines and information about raising lupines, including the zones where they grow, in case you and your children are inspired to plant your own lupines after reading Miss Rumphius.

(Cover art courtesy of Penguin)

Celebrate Earth Day with Children's Books

Tuesday April 22, 2014
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers cover artToday is Earth Day. See Popular Characters Celebrate Earth Day and the Environment for some recommended picture books and beginning reader books for children ages 2-8. Some of the popular characters featured are Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola, Jane O'Connor's Fancy Nancy and Marc Brown's Arthur.

Older children and young teens will appreciate Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, a fascinating nonfiction book. It's part of the excellent Scientists in the Field series. One of the most popular children's books about caring for the environment is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, a picture book that appeals to a wide range of ages. Don't forget all of the excellent children's poetry books about nature and the picture books about gardens and gardening that are listed on my April Calendar of Children's Books.

(Cover art courtesy of Penguin)

Children's Books Buzz - April 19, 2014

Saturday April 19, 2014
Cover - The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi KnightThis week the buzz was all about Star Wars. Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) has announced good news for Star Wars fans. DPW is publishing four new children's books based on the original Star Wars film trilogy.

The first book, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight,, which is a picture book written by Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles), will be released in October 2014. The additional three Star Wars saga retellings will be written by popular children's authors R.J. Palacio (Wonder), Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), and Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series). (Source: Star Wars: Disney Media Release, 4/17/14)

(Cover art courtesy of Disney Publishing Worldwide)

Middle Grade Recreational Reading

Friday April 18, 2014
Cover art for Summer of the Gypsy MothsKids don't have to wait for summer to enjoy stories set in the summer and other recreational reading. There are lots of good choices for recreational reading, including a novel about a wilderness adventure, the humorous story of a summer camp for gifted kids, a story of friendship, home and the summer challenges two children face, and a book of fascinating facts. Read the book reviews for details about the books: (Cover art courtesy of HarperCollins)

A Children's Edition of My People by Langston Hughes

Thursday April 17, 2014
Cover Art - My People by Langston HughesThe quality of the photography and the way it complements the text made me select My People as one of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009. The text of the book is the 33-word-long poem "My People" by Langston Hughes. Despite its brevity, poet Langston Hughes provides a heartfelt and moving paean to the beauty of "my people." That beauty is captured in the dramatic sepia-toned photographs by photographer Charles R. Smith, Jr. The fact that Charles R. Smith, Jr. is also a poet may account for his ability to so sensitively and beautifully illustrate the poem. I recommend My People for all ages.

I am presently researching other African American poets who either write (or wrote) poetry for children or whose poetry has been published not only for for adults but also in children's editions as was My People. Look for an article, with a number of recommended black poets and their poetry books for children, in about a week. If you have books to suggest, please scroll down to "Comments" and post your suggestions.

(Cover art courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

Get Ready for Earth Day With The Lorax

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Cover art for The Lorax by Dr SeussAlthough it is much more serious than most of his other picture books, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is one of my Favorite Picture Books and Beginning Readers by Dr. Seuss. This story of the impact that unbridled greed can have on the environment is not only a story kids enjoy because of Seuss's storytelling skills, it is also one parents and teachers can use to emphasize the importance of individual responsibility in caring for the environment. The title character has become a symbol for environmental concerns. Another good picture book for younger children is Lauren Child's We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers. For more good books for Earth Day, see April 22 on my April Calendar of Children's Books.

(Cover art courtesy of Random House)

It's Time to Thank a Librarian

Tuesday April 15, 2014
Cover art of the picture book The Boy who was Raised by LibrariansCelebrate School Library Month and National Library Week by thanking a librarian. I not only recommend The Boy who was Raised by Librarians for 4-8 year olds, I also recommend it as a thank you gift for a favorite librarian. This amusing, warm-hearted picture book celebrates the impact of libraries and librarians. The author, Carla Morris, is a children's librarian herself. The illustrator, Brad Sneed, has created full page illustrations alive with fun and action.

For tips on all that public libraries have to offer, see my article Save Money at Your Public Library. For more books, read my article about the Best Children's Picture Books About Libraries and Librarians. It includes six excellent books for kids in preschool to middle school.

Do you have a special librarian that you'd like to honor? Click on "Comments" below and share what makes that librarian special. I still fondly remember Miss Wright, the children's librarian at the Westfield Public Library when I was growing up in Westfield, New Jersey.

(Cover art courtesy of Peachtree Publishers)

A Special Passover Birthday Cake

Monday April 14, 2014
Max Makes a Cake - cover artWhat do you do when it's Passover and you're a little boy waiting for your dad to help you make your mom a special birthday cake, but you are running out of time because he's dealing with your fussy baby sister? If you're Max, you get impatient; then, you get worried; then, you get a bright idea and figure out a way to make a very special cake all by yourself. That's the story of Max Makes a Cake by Michelle Edwards, with illustrations by Charles Santoso. It's a good story to share with children 3 to 7 years old. For more good children's books about Passover, see my Top 10 Children's Books About Passover.

(Cover art courtesy of Random House)

Children's Books Buzz: April 12, 2014

Saturday April 12, 2014
Ramona's World by Beverly Cleary - cover artThis week's news includes a special birthday and the question of celebrities writing children's books.

Celebrity Authors of Children's Books - Several years ago, when I did an interview with author Jane Yolen, she talked about the influx of celebrity authors of children's books and her concerns. I was interested to see an article on April 5, 2014 on the subject, Should celebrities stop writing children's books? in The Guardian. How do you feel about celebrity authors? Click on "Comments" below and share your views.

Happy Birthday! - Today is the 98th birthday of beloved author Beverly Cleary. For several generations, Beverly Cleary has delighted young readers, particularly 8-12 year olds, with her humorous, yet realistic, stories about the ordinary lives of children. Her popular young characters include Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and Ramona's older sister, Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby. To learn more about the author, read my article about Beverly Cleary and watch the About.com video profile of Beverly Cleary.

(Cover art courtesy of HarperCollins)

Children's Easter Picture Books and Board Books

Friday April 11, 2014
Cover Art The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes There are a variety of excellent Easter books for children, including Easter picture books and, for very young children, Easter board books. You'll find children's books about Jesus and the story of Easter from the Bible as well a lot of children's Easter books about the Easter Bunny and family celebrations. I was delighted to learn that in honor of its 75th anniversary, a special hardcover edition of one of my favorite Easter picture books, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, was recently released with new cover art.

(Cover art courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

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