Tommy Orange Visits Inly

Leave a comment


Tommy Orange, the author of the novel There There spoke at Inly last Thursday evening.

There There, longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the Carnegie Medal is the debut novel by Orange, a member of the Cheyenne tribe. The novel took him six years to write, but it has made the author a new literary star. “Yes, Tommy Orange’s New Novel Is Really That Good” reads the title of the New York Times review of There There. Another New York Times article about Orange’s describes There There as a “new kind of American epic.”  Maureen Corrigan, reviewing the novel for Fresh Air, said:

There There is distinguished not only by Orange’s crackling style, but by its unusual subject. This is a novel about urban Indians, about native peoples who know, as he says, “the sound of the freeway better than [they] do rivers … the smell of gas and freshly wet concrete and burned rubber better than [they] do the smell of cedar or sage…”

The Inly program was a conversation between Tommy and Nina McLaughlin, a columnist for the Boston Globe whose first book, Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter was published in 2015. Nina wrote the Globe’s review of There There which is linked here:

The conversation was rich and meaningful, mostly because Tommy and Nina were natural and genuine. It truly felt like a conversation.

Nina began by asking Tommy about the explosive end to his novel. “I knew the end before I knew the beginning,” he told her. “I knew the characters’ lives would converge at a powwow.”

Talking about his polyphonic novel, Tommy described his writing process as “auditioning voices to see who felt convincing.” Over the six years it took him to write There There, Tommy estimates that he “tried 40 or 50 characters.”

Especially lovely was the way Tommy talked about novels, which he said “can do anything.” He was moved by A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and the work of Sylvia Plath. He described their work as having “sadness with levity.” Their writing, he said, “transcended their own sadness.”  Discussing his love of polyphonic novels, he mentioned, among others, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

Nina also asked Tommy to talk about the many mirrors and reflections in There There. “Growing up,” he responded, “Native people don’t see themselves very often. We aren’t in sports or movies or television.  The mirror lets you see how you’re native.”

I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed many happy days at Inly, but this was one of the best. Tommy Orange radiates kindness and thoughtfulness from the second you meet him.  If you haven’t read There There yet, add it to your “to read” pile.

Happy Reading….




Summer Reading Photo Edition

1 Comment

Summer Reading season has officially begun, and my “to be read” pile is ready.

I’ve already finished my first novel of the summer reading sprint – There There by Tommy Orange.

Orange’s highly praised novel follows the lives of twelve “Urban Indians” living in Oakland, California. All of the characters are on their way to a powwow, and their lives intersect and ultimately collide at the event. It is a powerful and memorable novel. I’ve read many glowing reviews of Orange’s novel, but these lines from the Kirkus starred review capture it best:

“What Orange is saying is that, like all people, Native Americans don’t share a single identity; theirs is a multifaceted landscape, made more so by the sins, the weight, of history. That some of these sins belong to the characters alone should go without saying, a point Orange makes explicit in the novel’s stunning, brutal denouement. “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them,” James Baldwin wrote in a line Orange borrows as an epigraph to one of the book’s sections; this is the inescapable fate of every individual here. In this vivid and moving book, Orange articulates the challenges and complexities not only of Native Americans, but also of America itself.”

Next up – perhaps because it has the most beautiful cover (by Julie Morstad) of every book on my list!

Today I am sharing photos – of an Instagram post, a letter, and a student…

Although I’ve never been on Facebook, I’ve become a fan of Instagram. What has been most surprising is how much I’ve come to rely on it in my professional life. Because publishers and authors use Instagram to promote new books, author events, and cover reveals, Instagram has become a way to follow what’s happening. Among the bookstores and other book-centered accounts, I also follow illustrators and artists. One of my favorites is a London-based illustrator, Steve Scott.  With his permission, I’m sharing my favorite of his posts:

At the end of the school year, I receive many sweet notes from students, all of which I treasure. This is one I received this year:

It’s awesome that she thinks the books are mine, and I’m letting her look at them, but I may need to clarify that the books are actually hers, and I am the lucky caretaker. It’s also nice that we are dressed alike in her picture!

Finally, a picture that sums up the joy of summer time reading.  I’m taking a couple of weeks off, but I’ll be on a book adventure so I’ll have lots to share with you in early July!  Until then, happy reading…

The Nonfiction Writer’s Toolbox: A Conference at the John F. Kennedy Library

Leave a comment


This past Wednesday, I participated in the John F. Kennedy Library’s annual conference for educators, one of my favorite professional events of the year. This year’s theme was the Nonfiction Writer’s Toolbox, and we had an opportunity to hear from four of today’s most respected writers of nonfiction for middle grade and young adult readers: Tonya Bolden, Steve Sheinkin, Tanya Lee Stone, and Melissa Sweet. One of the day’s highlights was a panel discussion with the four authors and a facilitator, Mary Ann Cappiello, during which the authors discussed their subjects and their writing process.

“I’m drawn to people who have been presented to us in a simplistic way,” Bolden said, “like Frederick Douglass.” Bolden’s most recent book, Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, A Monumental American Man, is a nuanced biography of the abolitionist, speaker, and writer. Bolden explained her process by saying that, in order to write a biography, the author needs to “become” another person and immerse themselves in the daily life of the era.

Sheinkin, the author of Bomb and Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, among other award winning history books for young adult readers, echoed Bolden’s remarks. “I look for narrative and moral complexity,” he said. He talked enthusiastically about the role of libraries and actual books in his research process. “A good book with credible sources is better than Google, particularly at the beginning of the research.”  Sheinkin uses an admittedly low-tech strategy to organize his work. He takes notes on color coded index cards and puts them up on a wall, his way of “seeing the story.”  Melissa Sweet, the author of Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White, agreed with Scheinkin: “The computer is the last 5% of my work,” she said. “I find out everything I can about and subject and then reduce it,” Sweet said.

Like the others, Tanya Lee Stone is the author of numerous nonfiction books, among them: Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers? and Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. She began her remarks by asking the participants to think about truth. “There is no absolute truth,” she said, before adding that her books are “as true as I can make it within my human ability.”

All of the authors agreed that the process of writing nonfiction is as creative as writing fiction. “The process of putting the puzzle together is creative,” said Sheinkin.

At the end of the panel discussion, each author gave us a preview of their new books:

Melissa Sweet is illustrating a poem by Kwame Alexander called How to Read a Book. She is also working on a project with Paul Fleischman, the author of Weslandia and Seedfolks.

Tanya Lee Stone’s new picture book about the history of Monopoly, Pass Go and Collect $200, will be published this July.

Steve Sheinkin is researching a book about the Women’s Air Derby, the first women-only air race which took place over nine days in 1929.

Tonya Bolden’s new picture book, No Small Potatoes, will be published in October. It is the story of a man born into slavery who ultimately became a potato farmer in Kansas.  She is also writing a sequel to her young adult novel, Crossing Ebenezer Creek.

I compiled this year’s conference bibliography, a resource for educators that highlights not only the participating authors’ books, but books to explore on similar topics and themes.

Selected Nonfiction for Young Readers An Annotated Bibliography

Compiled and Written by

Shelley Sommer
Inly School, Scituate, Massachusetts 

Prepared for

THE NONFICTION WRITER’S TOOLBOX For Exploring History and Other Subjects

A Conference for Teachers of Grades 3-8 and School Librarians John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
May 9, 2018

High quality nonfiction for young readers is more important than ever. With the increased attention on polarizing and alternative news, teaching students to be discerning about sources of information is vital to their civic education. The books below cover a range of subjects, from biographies of civil rights activists to the person who created the puppets for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. All of the authors used their own “toolbox” to shine a light on the struggles and accomplishments of people whose contributions and victories impact our lives today.

Below you will find a list of five books by each of the authors participating in today’s conference. Beyond that, we have highlighted themes drawn from two of each author’s books and provided recommendations of titles on similar topics by other authors to expand your lessons and suggest new avenues for your students to explore.

In the interest of space, I’m including only the list for Tonya Bolden in this post.


Author: Tonya Bolden


Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2013. 128 pages
A combination of narrative and visual storytelling, Emancipation Proclamation is an account of the landmark document told through quotations from central participants, archival photos, engravings, letters, posters, maps, and newspaper articles. Grades 6-9

Capital Days: Michael Shiner’s Journal and the Growth of Our Nation’s Capital

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 96 pages
Michael Shiner was born into slavery in Maryland and spent most of his life in Washington D.C., where he was a laborer at the Washington Navy Yard for over 50 years, learned to read and write, and gained his freedom two decades before the Emancipation Proclamation. Shiner’s journal offers a fascinating look at the everyday experience of an African-American working man who was an eyewitness to historic events from the War of 1812 through the Civil War and into the 1870s. Grades 4-6

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
New York: Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016. 64 pages
The plans to build a museum honoring African Americans’ contribution to our country can be traced back to 1915, but the Smithsonian’s 19th museum opened over one hundred years later in 2016. Bolden’s book details the story of its creation, including the nation-wide effort to gather artifacts, pictures and documents for the NMAAHC’s collections. Grades 5-8

Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2017. 128 pages
This book presents brief biographies of a diverse group of African Americans, from the 1700s to the present day, and their impact on American history. They include magicians, a race car driver, and a female Civil War spy. One of Bolden’s profiles is of Katherine Johnson, a mathematician whose calculations were integral to the success of many NASA space missions. Generously illustrated with period photographs, prints, posters and cartoons. Grades 5-8

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, A Monumental American Man

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2018. 208 pages
A middle school biography of the escaped slave who became a well-known abolitionist. But here Bolden tells a richer story about a man whose image is more familiar than his accomplishments. (He was in fact the most photographed American of the 19th century.) Opening with the story of Douglass starting his own newspaper, The North Star, Bolden follows his trajectory as a supporter of women’s suffrage, a diplomat, bank president, public servant, and world traveler. Grades 6-8

For Further Exploration

African-American Biographies

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney
New York: Hyperion Books, 2012. 243 pages
The ten historical figures in this collective biography lived in different eras and each had an impact on American society. Although many of the subjects’ names may be familiar to students, Pinkney extends her portraits to include details on each man’s childhood before highlighting his achievements.

For Younger Readers:
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2009. 40 pages
Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Arkansas, but escaped into Indian Territory where he lived until slavery was abolished in 1865. Reeves ultimately became the first African-American deputy U.S. Marshal. He made over 3,000 arrests and was respected for his excellent marksmanship.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Park Ridge, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 2015. 32 pages
Born in Kansas in 1912, Gordon Parks was the youngest of 15 children. Inspired by a magazine he saw while working as a waiter on a railroad dining car, he bought a camera for $7.50 and became a prominent chronicler of the everyday lives of African Americans. In 1948, he become the first African-American photographer to be hired by LIFE magazine.

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrated by Brian Selznick
New York: Scholastic, 2002. 40 pages
After being denied the use of Constitution Hall because of her race, singer Marian Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people on Easter Sunday, 1939. It was one of the defining cultural events of the 20th century and a milestone in civil rights history. She later became the first African-American soloist at the Metropolitan Opera.

Frederick Douglass/Freedom and Social Justice

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman
New York: Clarion Books, 2012. 128 pages
Both Lincoln and Douglass rose to prominence against enormous odds and they were equally committed to education as a path toward success. Freedman’s dual biography traces how the ideals of both men impacted the nation.

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Floyd Cooper
New York: Harper Collins, 2017. 40 pages
A solid and moving introduction to the well-known abolitionist and writer. Born into slavery in 1818, Douglass learned to read and used his education to build a new life for himself. “Once you learn to read,” he said, “you will be forever free.”

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2012. 176 pages
An account of the nearly 4,000 young people who marched in Birmingham to protest segregation. The youngest marcher was Audrey Hendricks, the subject of a picture book for younger students.

For Younger Readers:
Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by London Ladd
New York: Disney Publishing: Jump at the Sun, 2015. 48 pages
The life—and voice—of Frederick Douglass in Rappaport’s signature “Big Words” style.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
New York: Atheneum Books, 2017. 40 pages
After participating in a 1963 march in Birmingham, nine-year-old Audrey Hendricks spent seven days in jail with other student activists. This book provides an accessible way for even the youngest reader or listener to understand the importance of young people in the Civil Rights Movement.

If you would like a copy of the entire list, please leave a comment and I would be happy to email it to you.  Happy Reading!



Ten: Books, Articles, and Pictures Worth Sharing….

Leave a comment

At last….spring!  My husband opened a box of seeds yesterday, and the incredibly tiny little beginnings hold the promise of flowers blooming over the months ahead. When he begins planning his garden, I know we are turning the corner.

Here are ten things that I thought were worth sharing this week….

  • Russell Freedman died on March 16. The author of many award-winning biographies for young readers, Freedman wrote 47 books, but the best known is his 1988 Newbery-winning book, Lincoln: A Photobiography.  I had the opportunity to meet Freedman when I was in graduate school and fondly remember his encouraging words when I was considering writing about Hank Greenberg. Here is a link to his New York Times obituary:
  • If you regularly read aloud to young children – your own or in your classroom – you need a copy of A Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert on your bookcase. Mary and I read it to nearly ten groups of young children this past week, and it was a hit every time. The premise of the silly story is that the Lago family needs a new couch so they pile into the car and head to the furniture store where, in a scene straight out of Goldilocks, they look for a “just right” new couch for their family. They find a new couch, but on the way home, it falls off the top of their car and into a field where it is found by a llama. This is a sweet story that you won’t mind reading multiple times.

  • Friday’s New York Times had a wonderful story about George and Martha, the hippopotamus friends who are the stars of James Marshall’s picture books. It reminded me that George and Martha have been “on the shelf” for too long – it’s time to introduce a new generation of kids to these sweet stories.  Here’s the link:
  • Jillian Tamaki’s new picture book, They Say Blue, is a book about colors and changing seasons, but also about slowing down and paying attention. This is a book to share with classroom and art teachers.

  • I just read Tara Westover’s bestselling memoir, Educated, the story of a young woman who grew up in a remote part of Idaho in a strict Mormon, survivalist family.  As a child, Westover did not have a birth certificate, did not attend school, and never saw a doctor. Incredibly, she finds her way to Brigham Young University and then to Cambridge University. Her memoir focuses not only on her truly unbelievable journey, but on her quest to understand her family and the meaning of “home.”

  • The popularity of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series continues. We looked at what books have been checked out of the library most often over the past few months, and Gerald and Piggie rule the list. One of our students had them lined up and ready to read!

  • One of the books I read in Italy was Muriel Sparks novel, The Finishing School. It has been on my bookshelf for a long time, and sometimes, walking by our bookshelves, a title will catch my eye – a book I bought, but haven’t read. I read Sparks’ best known novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, years ago, but had not read anything else by the British writer. This one was interesting – a study of jealousy. Roland is a teacher who, along with his wife, runs a small European boarding school. One of the reasons they have chosen this career path is to give time for Rowland to devote to writing his novel. But, as it turns out, one of his students is also writing a novel, and Rowland becomes consumed by jealousy, both professionally and personally. Sparks is an unsentimental writer. You can almost imagine her plotting this novel out by just taking everything to its most extreme and seeing how it all plays out. Funny. A bit dark. A biting satire.

  • One of the best parts of visiting Italy was being surrounded by Renaissance art – Lippi, Bellini, Raphael, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Donatello, Ghirlandaio, and others. If I had not gone down the book path, I would have studied art history, and as I get older, I’m devoting more time reading about and looking at paintings. Over the past five or so years, I’ve taken a deep dive into two periods that interest me: the Dutch Golden Age and the Renaissance. Like my other reading, it’s an endless well. So many paintings – and so many books.  As we visited churches and museums in Florence, I chose to focus on one specific story and thought about how it is interpreted by different artists. I focused on the Annunciation, a moment we must have seen represented 100 times during the week. Like a story that’s illustrated by many illustrators (think of Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella), the story of Mary hearing the “news” is represented in many ways. Here are a few that stood out for me. In the first, Mary seems unsure about what the angel has to tell her. The fourth image is part of a wall-size fresco that is absolutely stunning. 

  • It is April 1 – the first day of National Poetry Month. A chance to read poetry and awaken some part of you that may have been dormant over the winter. Here is one of my favorites:

Billy Collins
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

  • A final picture to make it 10!  Happy Reading….

Reading (and Looking) to Beat the Cold Weather Blues….

Leave a comment

It’s been really cold. On the way to the grocery this morning, the car thermometer could not decide if it wanted to read 0 or 1 below. The numbers seemed to shiver as they toggled between the two readings. Alarming either way.  The only “sunny” side to the last five or six days of record-breaking cold has been the opportunity to drink hot chocolate and read.

My reading has focused on art which has allowed me to immerse myself in good words and beautiful pictures: a short biography of John Singer Sargent. Letters between Henry James and Isabella Stewart Gardner. Essays from the catalogue that accompanies the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Michelangelo exhibition, and two illustrated books:

Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon by Megan Hess

The book about Chanel was a gift, and probably not something I would ordinarily be drawn to, but this illustrated story of the influential designer’s life is fascinating.  She was twelve-years-old when her mother died and her father left her in an orphanage. When her “sartorial abilities” were recognized, Chanel became a milliner which ultimately led to ballet flats, tweed jackets, and, of course, Chanel No.5.  It was actually the best kind of reading: engaging, informative, and a book that left me wanting to know more.

Bolivar by Sean Rubin

Bolivar is a mashup: a book for kids that adults will love, a graphic novel, a picture book, an oversize illustrated novel.  I’m not sure where it would be shelved in a bookstore or library, but none of that matters. This is an amazing book and my first personal starred review of 2018. Bolivar is a dinosaur who lives in present day New York City. He’s quiet and keeps to himself – he even reads The New Yorker! But Sybil, the girl who lives in the apartment next door, knows her neighbor is a dinosaur, and she’s determined to take a picture of Bolivar to prove that to her disbelieving mother.

A number of unbelievable events lead Bolivar and the camera-carrying Sybil into a wild chase around recognizable New York City landmarks, but it’s that trip through New York that is most compelling. Every page is a tribute to New York: the produce stacked up outside of small markets, the subway, Chinatown, Central Park, and tourists. There are also fun visual jokes to catch, a wonderful picture of a paleontologist’s desk, and lots of water towers.

Bolivar is a sweet story about people who are too busy to see what’s right in front of them and a girl who is trying to get people to see the obvious. It is a memorable and wonderful book.

In today’s New York Times Book Review, there is an article called “For the Love of Malt Shop Novels” by Joanne Kaufman. In her piece, she talks about teenage books (mostly romances) as an “endless source of reassurance and hope.”  I did not know they were called “malt shop novels,” but I read them as a teenager too and got the same reassurance. As Kaufman writes, “You could be self-doubting like Jane Purdy, the protagonist of Fifteen and, nevertheless, end up wearing the ID bracelet of cute green-eyed Stan.”  Most of the books were win the 1940s and 50s – before my teenage years. But these were the books that I read voraciously as a middle school student.

Among other authors of this genre, Kaufman talks about Betty Cavanna. Cavanna’s name flooded me with memories of seventh grade when I read Stars In Her Eyes. I don’t remember much about the story except that I loved it. The books written for middle school kids today are far more realistic, and there are so many more choices of what to read. But I do remember Cavanna’s books serving the same function as many of the books I recommend to my students. They made me feel less alone.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all of the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin

Stay warm out there!

As 2017 Comes to a Close…

Leave a comment

As the year comes to a close, I am starting to see lists of books to watch out for in 2018, but it’s still too early to leave 2017 so maybe a look back….

Here are five books that defined my year:

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Pilkey’s crime-fighting dog is the star of the most popular series in the Inly Library. The fourth installment will be released while we are on our holiday break, but I’m sure there will be kids waiting to check it out on January 2!

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

This is my favorite picture book of the year. I love it more with every reading. The bright pop of orange on the child’s jacket. The reminder to put down our devices and explore the world. The way some of the illustrations seem to glow.

Patina by Jason Reynolds

The best book I reviewed for School Library Journal this year. Reynolds understands the difficulties and challenges faced by young people today and writes about their lives in a way they recognize, with integrity and respect.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

My surprise read of the year. I bought this book because I needed something for a train ride and ended up wanting to skip my stop. Three characters whose lives intersect: Adri lives in Kansas in 2065. Catherine’s family is trying to survive during the Dust Bowl in 1934. Lenore’s brother has died in WWI, and she wants to travel to America. A quiet, mysterious, and beautiful novel.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

A ghost story that is truly unforgettable. Both sad and funny, it is the story of Abraham Lincoln’s grief after the death of his young son, Willy, that includes the voices of both historical and made-up characters. Winner of the Man Booker Prize. One of the New York Times 100 Notable Books. I read it earlier in the year. I’m listening to it now.

I’m hoping the last few weeks of the year are filled with reading. My book stack is so tall it wobbles. Last night I finished Autumn by Ali Smith. I’m now reading a book for School Library Journal, and after that Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben. There are 15 days left….

Happy Reading!

Time to Make Your Book Shopping List…


It’s list season!  There’s a new “best books of 2017” list in my email every day, and although there are many books that appear on every list (Lincoln in the Bardo), there are surprises too. For example, the Washington Post’s 10 Best list includes Saints for All Occasions by  J. Courtney Sullivan, a novel published in May, but I may need to loop back to that one…

Along with Nancy Perry, my friend and colleague from the Norwell Public Library, I am making my own list of the best children’s books of 2017.  It’s fun for us to compare notes. Although we generally agree on the books to be presented at our annual James Library event, there are several that one of us is more passionate about than the other.  In the middle grade fiction category, Nancy is more enthusiastic than I am about Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm. I like it, but it did not reach Sunny Side Up heights for me.

We are in complete agreement that A Good Day for a Hat by T. Nat Fuller is one of the best picture books (for young children) of 2017.  It is a brightly colored and fun book that is a guaranteed hit for story time.

Outside of our list, which I will post after the event, we decided to include ideas for book themed gifts. It occurred to me that between libraries, Kindles, and random book purchases, some kids have already read the most popular books. Along with that, the holidays are an opportunity for parents, grandparents, and friends to indulge a child’s special interest.  And so for you early shoppers, here are books to expand a child’s horizon or support a new hobby…

Dreamers, Designers, Builders

Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers, by Jemma Westing

When Jackie Saved Grand Central: The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon, by Natasha Wing

Fallingwater by Marc Harshman

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

Engineered! Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt


To Infinity and Beyond…

My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins

Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space by Tam O’Shaughnessy


Kind Words 

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee

Most People by Michael Leannah

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs


Inspirational Women

The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

The World Is Not a Rectangle by Jeanette Winter

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

There are other categories, but I wanted to save room for these pictures –

There was no posing involved in this picture!  Just a wonderful moment for a teacher and student in the library this week:

And a new mural at the very popular Four Square Court, designed and painted by our middle school students with the help of Marshfield artist Sally Dean:

Happy Book Shopping!