Notes From the Library….

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With one week to go before spring break, there is heightened energy among both students and teachers. The most buzzed about event is Beauty and the Beast, this year’s Inly Players production. There are four sold-out performances, a cast of 80, and an incredible set with oversized books around the theater and on the stage. It’s the perfect backdrop to see Belle escape Gaston, rescue her father, and save the Beast, a clock, a teapot, a feather duster, and a candelabras!

Of course, there are several editions of Beauty and the Beast on display, but we’ve also been recommending books for spring break reading. InvestiGators, Pizza and Taco, and Max Meow continue to fly out the door with younger readers. Even Jack and Annie, the stars of the Magic Tree House series, continue to be read and even celebrated in classroom art projects:

The top middle grade check-outs are Odder by Katherine Applegate, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller, and anything by Rick Riordan.

The third graders have started their multi-month transition to Upper Elementary in weekly Library/Technology classes. We began by looking at how picture books work. The kids especially enjoyed learning the word “bleed” to describe illustrations without borders. After looking at lots of books, focusing on how perspective is achieved, the kids created their own versions of Hansel and Gretel’s journey through the forest:

Recently, some of Inly’s 6th graders expressed interest in reading aloud to the Lower Elementary classes. Addy Oliver joined us earlier today to read Sal Boat by Thyra Heder. The younger kids love having a “big kid” read to them.

It’s also been fun to have groups of middle school students working in the library:

Four new books arrived today:

All Rise: The Story of Ketanji Brown Jackson by Carole Boston Weatherford is an inspiring picture book about the new Supreme Court Justice. Using the refrain, “she rose” in an echo of the Maya Angelou poem, “And Still I Rise,”Weatherford provides the highlights of Jackson’s life and career: “She rose above a guidance counselor’s doubts that she could get into Harvard, whose campus she had first visited for a speech competition. Instead of lowering her goals, Ketanji vowed, ‘I’ll show them.'” All Rise would be a perfect gift for a young person with big dreams.

Dan Santat’s graphic memoir, A First Time For Everything. The reviews are glowing so I’ll check this one out to read over the weekend.

Two other new books are new installments in popular series. The books will be scooped up by enthusiastic readers next week – right in time for the March break reading!

Whale Done by Stuart Gibbs

City Spies: City of the Dead (Book 4) by James Ponti

In other news…

If the recent leaden skies have made you long for more color, I recommend a trip to Duxbury’s Art Complex Museum where a small but beautiful exhibit of mosaics by Lisa Houck will brighten your day. The mosaics are on display until May 14 – and admission to the museum is free.

My own reading is France-based for a few weeks. We are going to Paris during the school break and planning to visit a different museum every day!

Happy Reading!

Choosing a Gingerbread Cottage….

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Maybe it’s all of the grey days we’ve had this winter, but over the weekend I found myself looking at (and comparing) the gingerbread cottages in several editions of Hansel and Gretel. I was considering which would be the best one to visit, and then remembered the gingerbread comes with a witch inside so maybe visiting is a bad idea. Not surprisingly, there are many gingerbread house styles, from the relatively simple to over-the-top candy extravaganzas.

If you prefer a traditional gingerbread house, James Marshall has you covered:

Susan Jeffers’ house looks like something emerging from the mist – a place where a magical fairy, rather than a witch, lives:

I like this one too. It’s from Cynthia Rylant’s re-telling of the fairy tale with illustrations by Jen Corace:

Folk artist Will Moses (the great-grandson of Grandma Moses) has his own interpretation of the cottage. This is a scene that makes me look forward to warm days ahead:

Eloise Wilkin is best known for her many illustrations of Little Golden Books. This is her cottage:

And from a kind of eery version of Hansel and Gretel, this is Anthony Browne’s version. As a side note, Browne’s version has the scariest witch, mostly because she seems kind of “real.”

This is one I’d never seen until beginning my internet research into gingerbread cottages. It’s by a Russian illustrator, Anastassija Archipova:

Bethan Woolvin is an English author and illustrator of fractured fairy tales. Her book, Little Red, a retelling of Red Riding Hood was one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books in 2016. Here’s her take on the gingerbread cottage:

Rachel Isadora’s gingerbread cottage is a pink dream – but light on the candy:

Here’s a classic illustration by Kay Nielson, the Danish artist who worked in the Art Nouveau style:

This one, by Caldecott-medalist Paul O. Zelinsky, looks delicious – and Hansel and Gretel seem ready to try a few things:

There are many other versions of Hansel and Gretel, but I had to stop somewhere! In other library news, an eagle-eyed student spotted this typo on the spine of a fact book. The facts on the inside pages may be accurate, but don’t trust the cover. (Do you see it? It took me a minute!)

What I’m reading:

I’m reading this new book to begin preparing for a mid-March trip that will include visits to many museums. The author spent ten years working as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I’m learning lots of fun facts, like: Met guards get an $80.00 allowance to replace worn-out socks.

Happy Reading!

Notes from the Library…

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The days are getting brighter. Driving home at around 5:00 last night, it was still light – dimly, but still. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 15. There are hopeful signs.

And new books! My spring school shopping list is getting long with highly anticipated releases coming out over the next few months. Here are four I’m particularly looking forward to:

Caldecott-winning illustrator Dan Santat’s graphic memoir (February 28)

Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker. A novel with pictures by Matthew Cordell (March 7)

Nic Blake and the Remarkables by Angie Thomas, the author of the YA novel The Hate U Give – her first middle grade novel (April 4)

The Book of Turtles by naturalist Sy Montgomery – and one of the best book covers of the spring (May 2)

In the meantime, there are so many other books to read! I’m thrilled that Freewater by Amina Luquman-Dawson won both the 2023 Newbery and Coretta Scott King Awards.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards Chair Jason Driver, said “Freewater is a beautifully written and captivating historical novel. Ms. Luqman-Dawson explores the complexities of the slave plantation and living in a secret maroon community.” Freewater was published in January 2022, and I read it over the summer. Once I began reading about Homer and his little sister, Ada, escaping a plantation where they are enslaved, I could not put it down, and I recommended it for our 5th and 6th graders learning about the Civil War. This is the best kind of historical fiction: adventurous, compelling, and well researched. Before reading Freewater, I had never heard about the Southern swamps (maroon communities) where escaped slaves lived in hiding. It is a fascinating piece of American history.

Christina Soontornvat’s fantasy novel, The Last Mapmaker, was named a Newbery Honor Book. Erin, an Inly student and avid reader, agrees with the award committee’s decision. She loved the novel, but reports that it’s a good book to read “without a lot of distractions around.”

Caroline, an Upper Elementary student, recommends Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves by L.M. Elliott. “Reading this book is a good way to learn about WWII,” she told me.

Finally, a word about Hot Dog by Doug Salati – the winner of this year’s Caldecott Award, the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”

When Mary and I first read Hot Dog, we knew it was a special book. The Horn Book described it as “a breath of fresh air from start to finish.” At the story’s center is a little dog who is literally hot – and the noise and crowds of the city are overwhelming. Recognizing (and sharing) her pet’s exhaustion, his owner gets them both to the beach for some fresh air. The contrast between the busy city streets and the sand and waves is dramatic. Even readers experiencing the shift on paper rather than in “real” life, can feel the rejuvenating effect of the relative quiet and the space to run. It’s one of my favorite picture books of the past ten years – I even bought a copy for myself.

What I’m reading – but just starting:

Happy Reading!

American Achievement…

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I’ve always enjoyed the Upper Elementary classes. The kids are at a great age for absorbing lots of new information, and their questions reflect their curiosity and willingness to grapple with hard questions. Typically, there is a theme to our library classes, a topic that connects our weekly lesson. For example, last year’s UE library curriculum focused on a “Weekly Wonder.” Each class started with an introduction to a painting, a landmark, a piece of music, or a notable person. We watch a short video, look at pictures, talk about the importance of whatever the topic is. For example, the Beatles were one of our Weekly Wonders last year. So was American Gothic. And so was the architecture of Frank Gehry.

This year is an American history year, and our library classes celebrate “American Achievements” in many fields. So far, we have focused on science, sports, and visual art. Next month: music. The fun (but frustrating) part of planning the UE classes is that we could focus on a different American Achievement each day of the school year and still only scratch the surface. Weekly classes make this a particular challenge, but Mary and I jump in – hoping that a story will spark a new interest or make a connection.

Our sports topics included: Jim Thorpe, Bill Russell, and Serena Williams. After that, we moved on to science and talked about: Rachel Carson, Sylvia Earle, Mae Jemison, Sally Ride, and Carl Sagan. The students were especially intrigued by Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, a recording of music and messages that might be heard by extraterrestrials – like E.T.

We watched a video of Bill Nye (the Science Guy) explaining the Golden Record which resulted in lively conversations about what would be put on a similar device today.

January has been about visual art. We’ve looked at sculptures by Sarah Sze (who has a big exhibit at the Guggenheim opening this spring), Alma Thomas, Katherine Bradford, and Alex Katz.

Alma Thomas was an African-American artist noted for her colorful vibrant paintings – one of which (Resurrection) is the first artwork by an African-American woman to enter the White House’s permanent collection.

I think everyone enjoyed looking at Thomas’s brightly colored paintings during a very grey January. One of the best parts of our “art month” is the chance to collaborate with Annemarie, Inly’s art teacher. During the Alma Thomas week, she worked with the Lower Elementary students to create beautiful mosaics that are now hanging around the library and in the hallways.

Last week, we introduced Katherine Bradford to the Upper Elementary students. Bradford is a New York and Maine-based artist, and she is one of Annemarie’s favorites. Her large paintings of figures, many of them faceless, can be seen in several contemporary art museums, but also at the L Train/First Avenue Station of the New York City Subway. Here are two of Bradford’s public pieces:

In class, Annemarie showed the UE students half a dozen of Katherine Bradford’s artworks and asked them what was “unique.” According to Annemarie, they all said “no faces!” Next, they discussed how she still managed to have her people express a mood – via body language and color choice. Their assignment was to work in groups: one chose a pose that the others would trace (for example: confidence, joy, anger) And then, working collaboratively, they chose a color scheme that they felt matched the mood. 

Here are some pics of the work in progress:

And two of the finished projects!

Next week, the last in our art series, we will turn our attention to Alex Katz, the 95-year-old painter of large scale landscapes and portraits. Like Sarah Sze, Katz was the subject of a recent exhibition at the Guggenheim, and like Bradford, Alex Katz also lives in New York and Maine. Katz is one of my favorite artists, and so I’m looking forward to sharing some of his work with the kids next week. Maybe we will begin by looking at these paintings, two of my favorites:

My current reading is:

It was one of those situations where I was putting a book away and saw this on the shelf. I loved Patti Smith’s first book Just Kids which chronicles her early years in New York City and her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. And then I bought M Train when it was published eight years ago! My embarrassment that it had been sitting on my shelf untouched in all that time inspired me to pick it up, and I’m happy I did. Much of the book was written in Smith’s favorite cafe, and her reflections about travel, art, and the origins of the continental drift theory are perfectly suited to grey January days.

Random note on a book cover:

Another shelving situation, but this one in the school library. I started to put it away, but instead put it aside to enjoy looking at this week and reading to a class next week. The cover is beautiful – it’s the pastel palette. I want to hang it on the wall.

Happy Reading!

A New Year Begins…


Although January is not technically the half-way point in the school year, it always has that feeling of being Part Two. A re-set. And last week in the library certainly felt like that. Kids returned books they borrowed over the break and teachers were choosing books for new reading groups and new projects. We gathered books about land forms, the Civil War, the moon, and biomimicry among other interesting topics.

In the spirit of a new year, I thought it would be fun to take a look around the school and see what kids are reading. Here’s what I found:

Upper Elementary literature circles are reading:

The Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Poached by Stuart Gibbs

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Before break, the Upper Elementary students read novels by Joseph Bruchac:

There are also kids who are thinking about making a cake:

The Lower Elementary kids are reading too:

And, of course, Children’s House:

My own markers of the new year include:

A new calendar –

A new book of essays by one of my favorite writers, Colm Toibin –


a new Dayton t-shirt from my son:

2023 is off to a good start!

My Favorite Books of 2022….

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In this last post of 2022, I’m looking at the list of 55 books I read this year and reflecting on my year in reading – while looking at a the books I plan to read during the holiday break. Here are the ten titles that stand out. Maybe there’s a good recommendation for you – or a gift idea for a friend who likes to read:

Still Life by Sarah Winman (Still Life was my immersion experience last winter. This novel takes place WWII-era Italy and centers on a young English man and an older art historian. I read it with my phone nearby so I could look at the paintings Winman references. The true sign of how much I loved this book is that I have not yet put it back on the shelf. First, the cover is so beautiful, but most of all, I want the characters to be a part of my daily thoughts.)

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad (Definitely not a book for your gift list – but it stands out to me for its beauty and candor. As a young woman, Jaouad received a diagnosis of leukemia and all of her post-college plans disappeared overnight. After years of painful treatments and long hospital stays, she took her beloved dog on an extended road trip to meet some of the people she had corresponded with during her long recovery. I’ve read and loved many memoirs about navigating the loss of a loved one, but Jaouad’s book is about survival and how to keep going when everything you planned disappears.)

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka (For days after reading Otsuka’s new novel, I could not get it out of my mind. It centers on a group of people who swim at the same community pool every day. When a crack appears in the pool, it leads to multiple theories, but it also shakes their reliable routine. It made me appreciate the importance of routine – how much we rely on it. But it also made me think about “cracks” in our world, for example climate change. It’s also about memories and memory loss. A parable? A cautionary tale? A reminder to appreciate the fragility of our relationships. I want to read The Swimmers again in 2023.)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (This one was special because my husband and I read it at the same time and then had our own book club discussion. It was also fun to read it because the last time I read Smith’s classic novel I was in my early 20s. It’s a very different experience to read it decades later, mostly because after taking many trips to – and reading novels about – New York City, I could picture the streets where Francie lived and understand more fully how challenging daily life was for people struggling to get food on the table in the early 1900s.)

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson (This one was a surprise to me. I didn’t know what to expect, but had read several reviews that sparked my curiosity. Months after reading it, the puzzle at the center of the story still pops into my mind every so often. It takes place in the first-class lounge at JFK Airport and centers on a man telling the narrator his life story. But the reader is left with questions about the storyteller’s reliability. The best description of this thought provoking and thrilling story comes from a review in Vulture. Maris Kreizman described it as “a sleek train crash of a novel.” That’s perfect.)

Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (I read all of Strout’s Lucy Barton novels this year, but put this one on the list since it was published in 2022. What I appreciate about Strout is that her books read like someone is telling you a secret. I forget that I’m reading sometimes and imagine we are in Starbucks on a rainy day. I have my mocha and Elizabeth Strout is using everyday speech to say something about life and love that I needed to hear.)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (This book is on most of the end-of-year lists for good reason. I initially resisted reading it (bad decision) because I read that the main characters are game designers, and I know nothing about the gaming world. But, of course, it’s a book about people – that’s what matters. Its subjects are life and art and beauty and friendship. It also includes the best passages I’ve read about the joy of entering other worlds which some people do through screens and others through the pages of a book.)

Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (A complex and honest book about the lives of undocumented people living in the United States. What most stands out about this award-winning book is the resilience of the people Villavcencio writes about.)

Foster by Claire Keegan (Small Things Like These is a masterpiece – and was one of my favorites of 2021. This one is equally moving. The NPR review sums it up perfectly: “Keegan’s output is scarce and her stories are as spare as they are heartrending, whittled down to the essential. If she has published anything that isn’t perfect, I haven’t seen it… More than most books four times its size, Foster does several of the things we ask of great literature: It expands our world, diverting our attention outward, and it opens up our hearts and minds. This is a small book with a miraculously outsized impact.”)

Stay True by Hua Hsu (Inspired by it being named of this year’s NYT 10 Best Books of 2022, this is the most recent book I’ve read. Hsu’s memoir centers on his college friend, Ken, someone whom Hsu initially thinks is too mainstream for them to be friends. Their growing friendship is chronicled primarily through their tastes in music, and Hsu beautifully captures that time in our lives when we are trying to define ourselves largely by what we are not. When Ken dies in a tragic carjacking incident, Hsu is adrift, trying to understand his friend – and himself – more clearly. There is a passage that made me stop reading and go find a pen and paper so I could write it down. It was not surprising to see this same passage included in the New York Times announcement of the ten best books of the year:

“You make a world out of the things you buy. Everything you pick up is a potential gateway, a tiny cosmetic change that might blossom into an entirely new you. A bold shirt around which you piece together a new personality, an angular coffee table that might reboot your whole environment, that one enormous novel that all of the fashionable English majors carry around. You buy things to communicate affiliation in a small tribe, hopeful you’ll encounter the only other person in line buying the same obscure thing as you.”

This is my last post of the calendar year. But I plan to read three books over the break so I’ll have a report in early January. One of them, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, is a book I’m embarrassed not to have read yet. Robinson’s novel haunts me – primarily with guilt at not having read it – but also because I see references to it almost every week. I will fix that before the end of the year.

Have a wonderful holiday – and happy reading.

List Season!

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It’s book list season and hard to keep up with all of the end-of-year “best of” lists, but here’s one more for your present buying plans. The presentation of this list was initially “rained out.” Last Wednesday, Buttonwood had its annual Best Children’s Books of 2022 event, but the rain and wind were dramatic, and, understandably, everyone wanted to stay home in their pjs. So a few of us gathered at the store, watched the rain pouring from inside the cozy store, and talked about books. Here are some of the children’s books we wanted to share with everyone….

Picture Books

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall (On every “best of” list I’ve seen, including the NYT Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Every page is beautiful. A special gift)

Song in the City by Daniel Bernstrom (a charming book about a blind girl who experiences the city through sounds. If you enjoy making sound effects, this book is for you!)

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (a perfect read aloud choice – a very funny twist on the classic story.)

Hot Dog by Doug Salati (This one is my personal favorite of the year, mostly because it reminds me of warm summer days!)

Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady (A book for the big dreamer in your life…Nigel has lots of dreams, all of which his parents completely support.)

Early Chapter Books

Cornbread and Poppy (series) by Matthew Cordell

Maddie and Mabel by Kari Allen

Sir Ladybug (series) by Corey Tabor

The Secret of the Jade Bangle (The Nguyen Kids series) by Linda Trinh

Rica Baptista: Llama, Iguanas, and my Very Best Friend by Janet Costa Bates

Graphic Novels

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Ride On by Faith Allen Hicks

Lightfall by Tim Probert

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat

Middle Grade Novels

A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga (If you know a reader who loved The Wild Robot, this is the book for them!)

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

Finally, if you are looking for a completely silly graphic novel series for the young reader in your life, check out:

This series clearly made these two readers happy:

Happy Reading!

A Visit from Greg Christie – and Architecture Books for Kids…

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The award-winning illustrator of more than 60 picture books had a message for Inly’s students during his visit last week: keep learning. Greg Christie has done everything from designing John Coltraine album covers to animating films on Netflix. He is also a six-time Coretta Scott King Honor recipient and received a Caldecott Honor Award for Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. While talking with our 4th-7th graders, Greg stressed the importance of learning history and staying curious. As the illustrator of numerous history-based picture books for young readers, Greg explained the research he does for each book – immersing himself in an era’s clothing, buildings, and attitudes. As an example, he used his book Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Marshal. The kids were especially interested in Greg’s explanation of why “cowboy hats” had straight (rather than curved) brims and the evolution of the beaver fur hat. Beaver fur, as you might guess, is waterproof!

After meeting with the older students, Greg spent the afternoon with Lower Elementary students sparking their imaginations with funny drawings of “crazy bears” and “funny chickens.”

Every year I think “this is the best year for new children’s books,” and then the next year comes along and I say it again. But, truly, there are some stand-out books this year. Recently, three books for kids interested in buildings and architecture caught my eye. A gift of one (or all) of these books would ensure that future trips into Boston, New York, or any big city would be more fun for the whole family.

If you want to hear more about some of the best children’s books of 2022, join us at Buttonwood Books and Toys on Wednesday, November 30 at 6:00 where we will share some of our favorites.

I was in New York last weekend. It was a super short trip so we only visited one bookstore – The Strand. As always, I especially enjoyed some of the signs stuck in books on the display tables.

I’m not a tea drinker, but I did buy the new book by Kevin Wilson! His novel, Nothing to See Here, is one of my favorites.

And two pictures from the library that remind me of the important roles libraries serve:

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Conference at the JFK Library – and a Librarian for the Day…

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Last week was full of special days. On Tuesday, Caroline, one of Inly’s 5th grade students was the Librarian for the Day which was super fun. She jumped right in: reading to Children’s House and Lower Elementary students, helping us at the front desk, and making a display of her favorite books. The wonderful books Caroline chose are all among the library’s most popular middle grade novels. The list includes:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

City Spies by James Ponti

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Winterborne Home by Ally Carter

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Rochani Chokshi

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

On Wednesday, a group of Inly teachers participated in the John F. Kennedy Library’s annual educators conference.

This year’s conference, Framing History, explored how illustrations and images help children better understand historical and contemporary events. An award-winning group of authors and illustrators and excellent workshop leaders guided the conversations.

The day began with a keynote address (and a selfie!) by Ekua Holmes, a collage based artist whose work as been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts and been awarded a Caldecott Honor for her book, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Her talk, titled Influence and Inspiration, was the perfect way to start the day. Holmes addressed the complex lives that many children are living and stressed their capacity for understanding truth and capacity for compassion. “Children need to know,” she said, “that sometimes it can be really hard to become the thing you want to become.” Her next project is illustrating a picture book about Coretta Scott King, and we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of one of Holmes’ beautiful illustrations:

The panel discussion featured three illustrators who are known for their artistic representations of significant events and people in American history. Between them, Don Brown, R. Gregory Christie, and Laura Freeman, have illustrated over 100 books. Their illustrations are the way many young readers learn about the past.

Each of them talked about their journey to becoming an illustrator. Brown wanted to illustrate books about brave women that he could share with his young daughters. Freeman began by drawing dresses for Polo Ralph Lauren which led to one of her books, Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe. And Greg Christie started his career illustrating record covers before illustrating his first picture book, The Palm of My Heart, in 1996. Their conversation was rich, but one line that particularly stood out to me was when Greg Christie said: “we need book because we are fighting so many things.” Perhaps because of the conference was held during a turbulent election-season, I thought about how important books and reading are to teaching kids to distinguish truth from misinformation. “What will make us appreciation one another’s cultures?” Christie asked. “What builds bridges?”

I was also excited about meeting Don Brown, the author and illustrator of so many excellent graphic novels for young readers. Many middle school students learn about the horrors of September 11 through Brown’s book, In the Shadows of the Fallen Towers. His most recent book, We the People, is a timely – and accessible – explanation of the history of democracy.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the day – Laura Freeman having her book signed by Ekua Holmes. I love the enthusiasm they had for one another’s work:

The library is busy – just the way it should be. Here are some scenes from the past few weeks:

A toy version of C.J., the star of Last Stop on Market Street, seems to be enjoying himself:

I love those moments at my desk when I look across the room and see scenes like these:

Some of the middle school students participated in a photography class last week. Here, they are taking pictures of Bert, one of our library friends:

A nice moment from a library visit:

And look at this! I asked the staff at Barnes and Noble what they planned to do with this awesome Pigeon promotional piece after the display was over – and here it is:

One more thing – if you’re still here!!

Join us at Buttonwood Books and Toys on Wednesday, November 30 at 6:00 to learn about all of the best books published for kids in 2022. There are lots of good ones!

Happy Reading!

Ten Things Worth Sharing….

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  1. Isabelle Arsenault’s spectacular illustrations in the new picture book, The Mouse Who Carried A House On His Back. A perfect book to spark a conversation about generosity. It’s a sweet story about a mouse who opens his magical house to others, but the illustrations make the book a stand out.

2. The first thing I do each morning when I arrive at school is look at something beautiful. I have one of those page-a-day calendars that show a different piece of art each day, and it’s especially fun to be introduced to artists I had not known about. An illustration by Eugene Grasset sent me directly to Wikipedia to learn about him, and then to Google images to see more of his work. Grasset was a Swiss-born artist who lived in France. He designed furniture, wallpapers, fabrics, and magazine covers among other things. Here are two of his illustrations:

3. We had our fall book fair last week and, as always, it was a big success. Here’s a picture of our youngest customer. She’s clearly ready to learn to read!

4. I remember reading that the Black American architect Paul R. Williams drew his designs upside down so that his white clients could look at the sketches from across the table, rather than sitting next to him. After that, I was curious to know more about Williams and the Los Angeles homes he designed for celebrities – and his work at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Now there’s a beautiful new picture book about Williams and the challenges he faced as a Black architect in the mid-20th century. Curve and Flow would be an inspiring gift for a young person interested in art or design.

5. I love these benches I saw on Instagram. It will be hard to sit on them – they are in Bulgaria!

6. More book fair pictures!

7. . A winner in our unofficial most overdue book contest? Not sure – but this one was returned after 413 days!

8. The Upper Elementary students have been studying the American artist Stuart Davis. Davis, known for his bold and colorful paintings, was inspired by the jazz music of the 1940s and 1950s. To complement their creative projects the UE students learned several standards to perform at Morning Share. While sharing their bold and creative designs, they treated everyone to a performance of It Don’t Mean a Thing, Tuxedo Junction, and I Got Rhythm.

9. The John F. Kennedy Library’s annual educators conference will take place on November 2. This year’s theme is Framing History: The Power of Pictures. We have a group of award-winning illustrators to address how educators can use accurate, well-researched illustrations and images to get students excited about history, stimulate their historical imagination, and challenge them to think critically about the past.

The keynote speaker is Ekua Holmes, the Boston-based artist and illustrator. In 2021, Holmes was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, and it was so beautiful I visited twice. This was my favorite piece in the exhibit, the one I wanted to take home and hang over the fireplace:

10. At Mary’s and my sister’s recommendation and the many glowing reviews, I’m currently reading…

It’s one of those rare novels that sucks you in from the first page. It typically takes me a few pages (or more) to feel committed, but not with this book. I was with Sam and Sadie from the minute they see one another in the Harvard Square T-Station.

Happy Reading!