November Book Notes…

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Looking outside of the Library window, it could only be November. The sky is grey. It’s kind of misty and everything is brown. It was October only two weeks ago, but October’s bright orange days seem very long ago. On a more festive note, I saw a bunch (a gaggle?) of turkeys in the parking lot a few hours ago. Surprisingly, they did not look nervous.

Over the past few days, I’ve come across a few interesting things to share with you.

Saturday’s New York Times had a thoughtful article by Mark Oppenheimer about the “sunny outlook” of most fiction by Mormon writers. Oppenheimer quotes several Mormon writers, including Shannon Hale, author of the Newbery Honor book, Princess Academy, who says: “I think Mormons tend to have hope and believe in goodness and triumph, and those portrayals can ring false in a literary world.”  Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/09/us/mormons-offer-cautionary-lesson-on-sunny-outlook-vs-literary-greatness.html?_r=0

And on All Things Considered on Sunday, there was a wonderful interview with Cynthia Rylant, the author of many stories and the person who brought Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, and Poppleton to life.  She is also someone I’m grateful to on a regular basis.  Cynthia Rylant is my “go to” author on the picture book shelf. School librarians and teachers of young children know what I’m talking about. Every so often, I have a group of young children and a few extra minutes at the end of their library visit. The story has been read, their books have been checked-out, and we have covered all of the Library news. But yet….there are 7 more minutes.  No problem. I go right to the R section, select one of Cynthia Rylant’s books and start reading: The Great Gracie Chase, Little Whistle, The Relatives Came….

Here’s the link to the NPR interview:

http://www.npr.org/2013/11/10/243546854/how-cynthia-rylant-discovered-the-poetry-of-storytelling

On Thursday, November 21, I’ll be presenting my favorite children’s books of 2013.  Buttonwood Books and Toys will be on hand to sell a few of my picks – and contribute a few ideas from their shelves.  If you live near Norwell, Masssachusetts, please join us at the James Library at 9:00 a.m. on the 21st.

One of the best parts of the holiday season are the new Christmas and Hanukkah books.  This is your year if you have a young bear lover in your life.  Bears are the star of two of this season’s most endearing picture books: Hanukkah Bear, a revised edition of Eric Kimmel’s The Chanukkah Guest.  I was so happy to see this one. The Chanukkah Guest is a good story, but the text is long and it didn’t work for story time. This version features new illustrations and snappier dialogue – but the same silly story about a “very foolish Bubba Brayna” who mistakes a hungry bear for her rabbi.

Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno and illustrated by Brooke Dyer and Jane Dyer is a predictable variation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but I love this book – mostly because of the cozy illustrations.  It’s a Christmas story so guess who comes into the cottage while the three polar bears are out taking a walk…a happy ending of course! Even though it’s a familiar story, this is a book I can imagine young children loving enough to make it part of their favorite Christmas stories.

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