Gators, Princesses, and a Painting….

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I timed my (nearly daily) trip to Buttonwood Books and Toys perfectly yesterday – just in time to see Brian Lies, the author of the popular series of picture books about bats who do all kinds of things like go to baseball games, visit the library, and go to the beach…


Brian was at Buttonwood to talk about his new book which is a departure from creatures of the night. This story is about creatures of the swamp.


Gator Dad is about a dad who “squeezes the day” with his three young alligators. They go to the park, play on a seesaw, eat pancakes, and end the day with an alligator squeeze.  A perfect Father’s Day story, Gator Dad captures the joy of a day out.


We only have one week of school left, but Brian kindly signed a book to the kids at Inly, and I will “squeeze” enough time to read one more story!


As a school librarian, I am always on the lookout for princess books. There are lots of young readers who enjoy a good princess story and who can blame them!  But I also try to keep Inly’s library a marketing-free zone which means there are no Disney princess books. When I read about The Seven Princesses by Smiljana Coh, I was hopeful – and it did not disappoint. The best part of Coh’s book is that it’s more than a sweetly illustrated book with wide eyed princesses.  It’s also a story about family. Like all siblings, these seven young girls have their moments.  Each of them has a unique interest and they generally enjoy being together.


But “one day, they had the biggest fight in the entire history of princess fighting.”  The next few pages aren’t as rosy – either literally or figuratively.  The girls separate and build individual towers – they are lonely.  Ultimately, through the magic of an old picture, they reconnect and all is well in the kingdom.  Not a unique story, of course, but that doesn’t matter. The pictures are fun and sparkly in the best princess way – and there’s always room for a reminder how much stronger and happier we are together.

One of the best parts of summer is that I get to choose things to read from my toppling, piled-too-high stack of new books. I look longingly at the pile all school year long while I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird and The Giver and The Outsiders for the fourth or eighth time each, and then one morning I wake up and realize I can read anything I want. I don’t quite hear bells ringing, but something close!


The first “adult book” I read was The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. I finished it two days ago, and I’m still thinking about the story, the characters, and what a perfect first summer book it was.  Moving between three different times and places, the story centers on a painting by a 17th century Dutch artist. By the 1950s, the painting belongs to a wealthy New Yorker, Martin de Groot, who at the beginning of the novel is hosting a charity event.  After everyone has gone home, he realizes his painting has been replaced by a forgery.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos could accurately be called a mystery, but the mystery is about more than the painting. It’s also about the mystery of what motivates us and the choices we make.  It’s also just a really good story. As a friend said, each section could be its own novel that you would want to read!

Next up: a book to review for School Library Journal. Back to the toppling stack soon…




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