Books for Children

Children's books, libraries, book stores, readings, and related events.

Children's Book Review: The Creatrilogy Set by Peter Reynolds

January 29, 2013

The DotMarin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz. This time, she takes a look at three wonderful books about the power of original thinking.

Check out this beautifully boxed set of three hardcover picture books that celebrate the power of original thinking!

The Dot—The first book in this wonderful little series by Peter Reynolds. Meet Vashti. Vashti, isn’t an artist, she can’t draw. But her art teacher wants her to create something on a piece of paper. But Vashti insists that she can’t draw. Instead she places a dot on a piece of paper. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey into self-discovery.

Ish—The second book in the series is about a little artist, Ramon who loves to draw. It is what Ramon does best. But suddenly he loses confidence in his drawings until his sister, Marisol, shows him that value of doing something and it doesn’t always have to be just perfect!

Children's Book Review: A Home for Bird and Bear Has a Story to Tell

January 15, 2013

A Home for Bird Marin Mommies presents another guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz. This time, she takes a look at two great books about friendship.

In A Home for Bird, Vernon the toad has met a new friend, a small blue bird. Blue bird doesn't seem to be happy and Vernon isn't quite sure why. He asks little blue bird, but bird doesn't talk. He thinks that bird is lost from his home so he decides to introduce bird to his friends and try to discover where little blue bird's home really is.

As the reader, we know from the start that the little blue bird has fallen out of a moving truck where he lived in a cuckoo clock. While Vernon doesn't know this, he tries everything to discover where little bird's home is.

This is a very tender and thoughtful tale of friendship written by Caldecott winner, author/illustrator Philip Stead. The story is not only creative, but the illustrations are richly colored in mixed media and truly display the emotions of Vernon and little blue bird.

"Bird is shy," said Vernon, "but also a very good listener." Isn't that what friends are? This is a wonderful story that can be read over and over again. It is a story that can encourage discussions of what true friendship is and the importance of a home. A must for children ages 3 and up.

Children's Book Review: Noah Webster and His Words

January 8, 2013

Noah Webster and His WordsMarin Mommies presents a guest book review by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz.

Have you ever wondered about the man behind the dictionary? Who was Noah Webster? Check out Noah Webster and His Words, by Jeri Chase Ferris and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch, a wonderful picture book on one of the most famous scholars of all time. Did you also know that Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language became the second most popular book ever printed?

Meet Noah. Noah was born in 1758 on a farm in West Hartford, Connecticut. He lived in a family with a history of farming. But he didn’t want to be a farmer like his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. Noah wanted to do something different. He wanted to be a scholar. He was the first in his family to attend college at Yale University.

12 Days of Holiday Books: The Night Before Christmas

December 24, 2012

The Night Before ChristmasClement Moore's poem The Night Before Christmas has been a holiday staple since its debut in 1823, and there are countless picture books depicting this timeless classic. So what makes this latest version (26 pages, Peter Yarrow Books, 2010) so special and different from all the other versions out there? It's a combination of things really. First, the enchanting paintings of illustrator Eric Puybaret capture the magic of the tale and offer a colorful, fresh take on the poem. More importantly, though, this version of The Night Before Christmas includes a CD that features performances by the iconic folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.

Featured on the disc are three tracks: a version of the poem set to music by Noel Paul Stookey (the "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary), a charming reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mary Travers with musical accompaniment by Peter and Paul, and bonus rendition of A 'Soalin, a classic Peter, Paul and Mary holiday favorite.

What makes the performances especially poignant is that they are the last from Mary Travers, who passed away from leukemia in 2009.

12 Days of Holiday Books: It's Christmas, David!

December 19, 2012

It's Christmas, David!"No peeking!"

"Those are not toys!"

"Be patient!"

"Santa's watching!"

Sound familiar? It's common dialogue in our house around this time of year, and it's a big part of the hilarious It's Christmas, David! (32 pages, The Blue Sky Press, 2010).

It's Christmas, David! is part of author and illustrator David Shannon's series of David books, which feature poor little David and the litany of mischievous things he's told not to do (based on the author's real-life childhood experience, no less). With all the admonitions directed toward David in It's Christmas, David!, it might seem like he's an awful kid; but he's not—he's just doing what most children do and feeling the way most children feel around the holidays. OK… maybe David's behavior is a little worse than most kids'—but then that's what makes the book so funny!

12 Days of Holiday Books: Olive the Other Reindeer

December 18, 2012

Olive, the Other ReindeerWhile listening to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Olive the dog hears the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer" (instead of "All of the other reindeer"), and decides that she, in fact is the reindeer in question. So begins the contemporary Christmas classic Olive, the Other Reindeer (40 pages, Chronicle Books, 1997) by local author and illustrator team Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.

Olive undertakes an arduous journey—involving no fewer than two buses—to the North Pole and assists Santa Claus using the talents that come naturally to a Jack Russell Terrier. Olive, the Other Reindeer pairs Walsh's charming, funny, and inspiring story with Seibold's cool retro style illustrations, in a book that both children and adults will love. For what it's worth, the book is far different, much simpler, and in our opinion better than the animated Christmas special that's based on it.

12 Days of Holiday Books: Llama Llama Holiday Drama

December 15, 2012

Llama Llama Holiday DramaEvery parent knows that while the holidays are a magical time for children, they can be a difficult time to be patient, too (heck, many adults we know feel that way). Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Holiday Drama (40 pages, Viking Juvenile, 2010) addresses the joys and frustrations felt by children during the holiday season in a heartfelt and humorous way.

Llama Llama, the eponymous protagonist of Anna Dewdney's popular series of books, finds it hard to wait until Christmas is finally here, especially with all the shopping, activities, cookie baking, decorating, and more. Finally, it's up to Mama Llama to set things right and help her child understand not only the need for patience but what's really important during the holiday season.

12 Days of Holiday Books: The Magical Christmas Horse

December 5, 2012

The Magical Christmas HorseThe Magical Christmas Horse (40 pages, Paula Wiseman Books, 2011) by author Mary Higgins Clark and illustrator Wendell Minor tells the heartwarming Christmastime tale of a young boy, Johnny, who travels to his family's ancestral farm on the East Coast to spend the holidays with his grandparents. While Clark is mostly known for suspense novels, here she tells a simple and charming holiday story for young children

Johnny's favorite memory of his grandparents' farm is of a beautiful, hand-carved wooden horse, and Johnny promises his younger brother Liam that this year will be his year to ride the horse. Unfortunately the wooden horse is nowhere to be found, and much Christmas wishing ensues.

Of course a little miracle of sorts happens on Christmas Day, and all ends well. While the story is a bit simplistic, it's charmingly written and includes a refreshing message that's all about giving rather than receiving. After all, that's what the holidays are supposed to be about, right? And of course Wendell Minor's (The Last Train, Night Flight, and Christmas Tree!) beautiful luminscent paintings evocatively bring the story to life.

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah

November 27, 2012

Chanukah Lights EverywhereMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin children's librarian Lisa Katz, who highlights some fantastic Hanukkah books for kids.

While we are resting our bellies from a grateful evening of our delicious Thanksgiving meals, we now have to quickly switch gears and prepare for Hanukkah. With only a short time until the first candle is lit on the menorah (Saturday, December 8th), we must get ready for our holiday treats. It is time to get out those dreidels, chocolate gelt, menorahs and candles. Here are some fabulous Hanukah books to share with your family and friends. They make for some great presents too!

I have put asterisks next some wonderful stories for children who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in their homes. I have also included a short poetry list as well as the PJ library list.

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