A Book, A Baseball Player, and Virginia Lee Burton



First, the book: Her Right Foot – written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris.

I expect that in early 2018, the cover will be adorned with a shiny gold award sticker, but buy it now while the view of the State of Liberty’s right foot is fully visible – as she steps into the sea. This is a timely book, to put it mildly.  As the 24-hour news cycle causes stress and anxiety, Eggers’ book gave me a few minutes of pure joy. It is thought provoking and full of heart.

Beginning with the story of the Statue’s origins (“After all, the Statue of Library is an immigrant, too.”), it continues to explore – with good humor and funny asides – the significance of the Statue’s right foot which is clearly taking a step forward.  Truthfully, I had never noticed, but now I want to go back to Liberty Island and look again.

Eggers’ book is full of fun facts about the iconic Statue. For example, did you know that the parts to construct the Statue of Liberty were put into 214 crates for its trip across the Atlantic Ocean?  And I learned that what is now Liberty Island was once called Bedloe’s Island.  Beyond the trivia, though, what stands out are the book’s final pages which I won’t spoil here.  I’ll just say that reading them brings clarity to the conversation about immigration.

Like the Statue of Liberty, baseball has a special place in the American story.  This morning, in honor of the Jewish holidays, NPR’s Only A Game had a story on Hank Greenberg’s 1934 decision to be on the field on Rosh Hashanah – a game the Detroit Tigers won with Greenberg’s walk-off home run. Nine days later, on Yom Kippur, Greenberg sat out, and the Tigers lost. Listening to the segment about those eventful days in Detroit, brought back memories of writing my book, Hammerin Hank Greenberg: Baseball Pioneer, which was published in 2011. Greenberg’s decision was literally front-page news in Detroit, a city which was also the base for Father Charles Coughlin’s popular radio show which included anti-semitic rhetoric.  It’s an amazing story, and one worth hearing if you don’t know it.

Here’s a link to Only A Game’s segment:


Author visits are one of the highlights of working in a school library, and we were lucky to welcome the author and illustrator of a wonderful new book to Inly last week.  Sherri Rinker and John Rocco, the author and illustrator of Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton, told our 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders about the author behind the classic picture books, The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  The Little House is one of my favorite picture books so it is a special treat to have a tribute to “the little house” in our new library.

Happy Reading!







New School Year = New Books


As the books come out of the boxes and join Inly’s Library, I begin making a mental list matching books to potential readers.  The kids return to school on Wednesday, and there will be immediate waiting lists for: the third book in Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series, Babymouse: Tales From the Locker, and The Force Oversleeps, the fifth installment in Jarrett Krosoczka’s Star Wars series.

But the best part of unpacking is finding new favorites, gems that will be perfect read-alouds or conversation sparks.  If you are looking for books to add to a classroom or home library, here are five picture book standouts from the boxes…

Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton by Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco

This picture book biography of the author of Mike Mulligan and The Little House, is one of the most beautiful books of the season.  Echoing Burton’s style in her timeless classics, Big Machines tells the story of Burton’s life and her creative process.  There are countless possibilities for using this book in the classroom and the art room. I’m interested in using this book to talk about Burton’s focus on how time (and people) impact their environments.

How To Be An Elephant by Katherine Roy

The artwork is the star here.  Roy follows the life of a newborn elephant and provides information about every aspect of life as an African elephant – if you can take your eyes off the illustrations!

Come With Me by Holly McGhee

Teachers and parents want to teach children to be empathetic, and for obvious reasons, the volume of that conversation has risen over the past six months.  The hard thing is that empathy can’t really be taught in the way math or grammar are. It has to be witnessed every day – in the words we use and read and hear.  McGhee’s book is a book about small actions that make the world a better place.

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt

When my son was young, maybe three, we were in the grocery store one day.  As I pushed the basket, he suddenly asked: “why are we here?” I launched into an explanation of how we buy food each week and how the grocery store works, when he stopped my over-long response.  “No,” he said.  “Why are we here?  On this planet?  At this time?”  That’s a whole different question that I don’t remember how I answered, but it would have been easier if I had this book. Such a natural question, right?  Of course, kids wonder: why am I me – and not someone else? There are no simple answers, of course, but Britt’s book provides kids a way to express their wonder at being alive.

Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds

Time for a break! After all of that thinking about “big questions,” we all need something more lighthearted, and this is just the book.  Jasper Rabbit (the star of Creepy Carrots!) is back – and he’s older and braver – until the lights go out and his new underwear begin to glow….

I hope you had a wonderful and restful summer.  A new year of stories from the school library begins tomorrow!