Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inside Nan: Volunteer Tuesday

We are reading Dominic by William Steig. I picked this book for us because it is stellar in every way and Travis deserves the best. Today we met Bartholomew Badger. From the drawings Travis is sure that the old pig is a "she" ; he is adamant about it. Even when the words say "Mr. Badger dozed off again..." Travis brought a hairbrush with him today, he brushes his hair as I read. "This is my friend's brush", he says. "he said I could hold it for him. I like it but mine is softer." As he brushed I read. We are on a journey together, one not unlike Dominic's journey. "I'm just moving along, on my way to wherever I get, to find whatever I find."

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Faith by Maya Ajmera, Cynthia Pon, Magda Nakassis
Faith explores through full-color photographs the many ways in which the world celebrates and practices religious belief, highlighting the common threads—praying and meditating, chants and songs, holy books, cleansing, holy places, holidays and festivals, important events, dress, food and drink, and helping others. Spare text accompanies the pictures of children and identifies the specific religion and practices. Concluding notes for adults to share with youngsters provide more information on each one.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies (Or, Frankly, Anybody Else)

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies (Or, Frankly, Anybody Else) written and illustrated by Laurie Rosenwald
Here’s a look at life from artist and professional nonconformist Laurie Rosenwald, who insists that she doesn’t want to tell anyone what to do. But when you are as irreverent as she is people sort of DO want to know what you think. All the Wrong People Have Self Esteem is for young women and, frankly anyone else, who asks good questions about life and then likes to laugh at the answers.

Every Human Has Rights : A Photographic Declaration for Kids

Every Human Has Rights : A Photographic Declaration for Kids by National Geographic Editors, Foreword by Mary Robinson
National Geographic has joined the Every Human Has Rights campaign by released a new childrens book to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The book uses images and accessible text to help children learn their human rights.

Every Human Has Rights - Campaign Highlights from Every Human Has Rights on Vimeo.

Hollywood and Maine

Hollywood and Maine by Allison Whittenberg
In 1976 Pennsylvania, middle-schooler Charmaine Upshaw contemplates a career as a model or actress while coping with boyfriend problems and the return of her uncle, a fugitive who cost her family $1,000 in bail money a year earlier.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If I Grow Up

If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
Growing up in the inner-city projects, DeShawn is reluctantly forced into the gang world by circumstances beyond his control. Strasser has a website here. Here's a comment about the book from Richie's Picks: "A hell of a story for all of us who have no clue as to what kind of daily lives these young people in the projects experience, and how their dreams are beaten down."

Not All Animals Are Blue: A Big Book of Little Differences

Not All Animals Are Blue: A Big Book of Little Differences by BĂ©atrice Boutignon
Pictures help children spot differences in colors, movement, attitude and even discoveries.


Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
As members of the first crew of astralnauts, Matt Cruse and Kate De Vries journey into outer space on the Starclimber and face a series of catastrophes that threaten the survival of all on board. Visit Kenneth Oppel's website here.


Bloodline by Katy Moran
While traveling through early seventh-century Britain trying to stop an impending war, Essa, who bears the blood of native British tribes and of the invading Anglish, discovers that his mother is alive and he, himself, is a prince of the northern kingdom, but he has loyalties and loved ones in the south to whom he is compelled to return.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Her Mother's Face

Her Mother's Face by Roddy Doyle, Freya Blackwood (Illustrator)
Siobhan and her father continue to feel sad in the years following the death of Siobhan's mother, until Siobhan follows the advice of a mysterious woman. "At first , all she could see was her own face. But she stayed ther, looking. And, after a few minutes, she began to imagine another girl, very like herself, but not exactly the same. The hair a little different, the mouth a little smaller, the lips a little darker. And she could make her look a little older, and a little more, And Siobhan knew. She was able to imagine her mother's face...And Siobhan felt happy for the first time since her mother had died..."

The Composer Is Dead

The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis, musical score by Nathaniel Stookey
An inspector seeks to solve a murder mystery at the symphony by questioning each of the musical instruments.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What the Grizzly Knows

What the Grizzly Knows by David Elliott, Max Grafe (Illustrator)
When night falls magical things begin to happen to Teddy, taking the reader on an adventure around the countryside and seeing the world through the senses of a bear.

Darwin: With Glimpses into His Private Journal & Letters

Darwin: With Glimpses into His Private Journal & Letters by Alice B. McGinty, Mary Azarian (Illustrator)
Filled with the fascinating words of Charles Darwin—designed as handwritten entries—this picture book biography reveals the assembling of a profound idea: the survival of the fittest. Two hundred years after his birth, 150 years after the publication of his ORIGIN OF SPECIES, this thought-provoking, splendidly illustrated account invites us into the private thoughts, hopes and fears of a soul who forever changed the way we see the world.
"Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, or that my work has been imperfect, and when I have been contemptuously criticized, and even when I have been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to myself...I have worked as hard and as well as I could, and no man can do more than this...


Response by Paul Volponi
When an African American high school student is beaten with a baseball bat in a white neighborhood, three boys are charged with a hate crime.

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone, Foreword by Margaret A. Weitekamp
Profiles thirteen women who challenged social norms and government policies to prove they could be exceptional astronauts.

The Mousehunter

The Mousehunter by Alex Milway
Captain Mousebeard is a feared mousehunting pirate. He seeks out the rarest and most precious breeds of mice to collect and trade. Emeline, a mousekeeper, wants the bounty her master puts on Mousebeard's head. So she heads off to capture the pirate.

The Devil's Paintbox

The Devil's Paintbox by Victoria McKernan
In 1866, fifteen-year-old Aidan and his thirteen-year-old sister Maddy, penniless orphans, leave drought-stricken Kansas on a wagon train hoping for a better life in Seattle, but find there are still many hardships to be faced.

Tell Me Who

Tell Me Who by Jessica Wollman
Two sixth-grade girls obsessed with fortune telling discover a machine that tells them who they, and anyone else, will marry. Find out more about Jessica Wollman and her books here.

Heart of a Shepherd

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
Ignatius "Brother" Alderman, nearly twelve, promises to help his grandparents keep the family's Oregon ranch the same while his brothers are away and his father is deployed to Iraq, but as he comes to accept the inevitability of change, he also sees the man he is meant to be.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bella Sara #5: Fiery Fiona

Bella Sara #5: Fiery Fiona by Felicity Brown, Jennifer L. Meyer (Illustrator)
Meet the beautiful and heroic Fiona, the mare with the glowing red mane, as she helps a young girl discover that things aren't always what they seem. Visit the illustrator's website here.

The Princess and the Unicorn

The Princess and the Unicorn by Carol Hughes
Joyce the fairy has the adventure she has always dreamed of when she joins forces with a human princess to rescue the unicorn stolen from Swinley Forest, placing the forest and its fairy community in grave danger.

Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards Series #2)

Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards Series #2) by N. D. Wilson
The continuing adventures of Henry York, who has been living in Kansas with his cousins, where he discovers doorways leading to other worlds and becomes involved in a multi-world struggle between good and evil.

Take-off: American All-Girl Bands During WWII

Take-off: American All-Girl Bands During WWII by Tonya Bolden
The 1940's was a time when society thought it improper for women to make a sax wail or let loose hot licks on skins, but with the advent of World War II and many men away fighting the war, women finally got their chance to strut their stuff on the bandstand. These all-girl bands kept morale high on the homefront and on USO tours of miltary bases across the globe while also helping to establish America's legacy in jazz music.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Birds by Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek (Illustrator)
Fascinated by the colors, shapes, sounds, and movements of the many different birds she sees through her window, a little girl is happy to discover that she and they have something in common.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inside Nan: Some Windows and Spring

May Sarton: Of Havens
Though we dream of never having a wall against
All that must flow and pass, and cannot be caught,
An ever-welcoming self that is not fenced,
Yet we are tethered still to another thought:
The unsheltered cannot shelter, the exposed
Exposes others; the wide open door
Means nothing if it cannot be closed.
Those who create real havens are not free.
Hold fast, maintain, are rooted, dig deep wells;
Whatever human love my be,
There is no freedom without sheltering walls.
And when we imagine wings that come and go
What we see is a house, and a wide-open window.
Robin Becker: Sadness in Spring
Today I thought about how everyone I know
is sad, how amazing that the forests and deserts
and plains can hold us as we get up and walk
from one season to the next.
In spring all sadness is wet and branching, sucking at shoes,
and the anniversaries of deaths
are like tiny tombstones on the trails.
Summer is still so far away, not like our dead who stand
in the woods all night, a few feet from the house.

Marge Piercy: Spring
Spring will come with mud,
and I will slog in boots
to dig and plant my food.
This restlessness will hum
in my blood like a hive
preparing to swarm, and issue
on the still air of summer
buzzing and victorious
to change my life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Boy on the Lion Throne: The Childhood of the 14th Dalai Lama

Boy on the Lion Throne: The Childhood of the 14th Dalai Lama by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

11 Birthdays

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
After celebrating their first nine same-day birthdays together, Amanda and Leo, having fallen out on their tenth and not speaking to each other for the last year, prepare to celebrate their eleventh birthday separately but peculiar things begin to happen as the day of their birthday begins to repeat itself over and over again.

The Odd Egg

The Odd Egg written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
Each of the birds has an egg...except for Duck. So when Duck finds a beautiful egg of his own he's delighted — even though the other birds make fun of it. But everyone's in for a BIG surprise when his egg finally hatches!
Remember her work in Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Inside Nan: In Spite of My Efforts Not To Covet, These are Books I Wish I Owned

Children's Literature: A Reader's History, from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer
Chapter 14 alone is reason to have this book nearby! There are so many post-it notes in this book -- if only I could just absorb it. I have to return it to the library. Will I request it again to have it nearby. I want to be smarter about how I am reading and thinking about what I read. The insights of history are overwhelming. And this is not the only book that I keep requesting and reading and returning. Here's something from the introduction: "...(two ways of reading literature)...on the one hand, we may look for what it seems to us; on the other, we may look for what its author meant it to be...Part of the challenge for the literary critic, therefore, is to balance authorial intention and reader response. But part of the challenge for the children's literary critic is to recognize that texts are mutable-that meanings change, that different groups of readers may see different things, and that what grown-ups find as ordinary items of experience may transform, in the child's imagination, into monstrous brilliance.../page 3
The Case For Make-Believe: Saving Play in Our Commercialized World by Susan Linn
At the heart of this book are gripping stories of children at home, at school, and in a therapist's office using make believe to grapple with real-life issues from entering kindergarten to the death of a sibling. In an age when toys come from TV shows, dress-up means wearing Disney costumes, and parents believe Baby Einstein is educational, Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us why we need to protect our children from corporations that aim to limit their imaginations.
Jerry Griswold examines the unique qualities of childhood experience and their reappearance as frequent themes in children's literature. Surveying dozens of classic and popular works for the young—from Heidi and The Wizard of Oz to Beatrix Potter and Harry Potter—Griswold demonstrates how great children's writers succeed because of their uncanny ability to remember what it feels like to be a kid: playing under tables, shivering in bed on a scary night, arranging miniature worlds with toys, zooming around as caped superheroes, listening to dolls talk.

Ready to Dream

Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli, Elena Furrow, Bronwyn Bancroft (Illustrator)
While drawing pictures of the animals she sees on her trip to Australia, a young girl named Ally meets Pauline, an aborigine woman and fellow artist, from whom Ally learns that art is not always created with just paper and paints, and that mistakes are actually happy accidents.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, E. B. Lewis (Illustrator)
I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Inside Nan: The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology

The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh, Introduction by Alan Weisman
Thich Nhat Hanh links his contemplation of environmental destruction in the world around us, to the Buddhist teachings of the impermanence of all things. Rather than seeing the nature of impermanence as reason to passively accept environmental destruction, he demonstrates how this teaching can offer inner peace and the possibility of using our collective wisdom and technology to help restore the Earth's balance.

Emmaline and the Bunny

Emmaline and the Bunny written and illustrated by Katherine Hannigan
Everyone and everything in the town of Neatasapin is tidy, except Emmaline who likes to dig dirt and jump in puddles, and wants to adopt an untidy bunny.

The Anatomy of Wings

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee
After the suicide of her troubled teenage sister, eleven-year-old Jenny struggles to understand what actually happened.
"...I hated her and loved her that final winter...I saw her try to turn her face away from painful things: struggling insects; a three legged dog; Kylie, clumsy, dropping her bag, calling out to her across the oval; a simple boy pushing supermarket trolleys, two women staggering across the highway with a carton of beer...On those days she felt everything suffering...That winter the nothingness of still days slipped into her, drop by drop. Days when everything was so bright and each and every thing had a shining clear edge..."

Marcelo In The Real World

Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco Stork
Marcelo Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of a corporate law firm.
"...Every time you decide, there is loss, no matter how you decide. It's always a question of what you cannot afford to lose. I'm not the one playing the piano here. You're the one that needs to decide what the next note will be...But how do I know the next note is the right one?...The right note sounds right and the wrong note sounds wrong..."/page 168