Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Nice Book for Passover from School Library Journal

KIMMELMAN, Leslie. The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah. illus. by Paul Meisel. unpaged. glossary. CIP. Holiday House. Mar. 2010. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-1952-4. LC 2008048488.
PreS-Gr 3—This Yiddish-inflected retelling of "The Little Ren Hen" features a balabusta (good homemaker) who kvetches about her lazy no-goodnik friends who will not help her make matzah from wheat. When they show up at the Passover Seder, the hen scolds, "What chutzpah!" Ultimately, however, they repent and the hen forgives them because she is a mensch. All ends happily as they make up for their earlier bad behavior by doing the dishes. The droll ink, watercolor, and pastel cartoon illustrations have a friendly charm that makes a nice contrast with the story's wry humor. The Yiddish vocabulary and speech patterns will have Jewish adults rolling in the aisles, and children will enjoy the merging of familiar Passover and folktale elements. It's entertaining to those in the know, but readers unfamiliar with the holiday may be mystified by the humor, and they will gain little understanding of the traditions of Passover. An endnote on the holiday's history, a matzah recipe, and a glossary round out the package, but the book should be used in combination with more traditional tales or with audiences who already observe Passover. It's a must for Judaica collections and a solid choice for large general collections.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A little bit on Beverly Cleary...

"When it comes to writing books kids love, nobody does it better."
— Ilene Cooper, Booklist

Beverly Cleary was born in McMinnville, Oregon, and, until she was old enough to attend school, lived on a farm in Yamhill, a town so small it had no library. Her mother arranged with the State Library to have books sent to Yamhill and acted as librarian in a lodge room upstairs over a bank. There young Beverly learned to love books. However, when the family moved to Portland, Beverly soon found herself in the grammar school's low reading circle, an experience that has given her sympathy for the problems of struggling readers.
By the third grade she had conquered reading and spent much of her childhood either with books or on her way to and from the public library. Before long her school librarian was suggesting that she should write for boys and girls when she grew up. The idea appealed to her, and she decided that someday she would write the books she longed to read but was unable to find on the library shelves, funny stories about her neighborhood and the sort of children she knew. And so Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and her other beloved characters were born.
When children ask Mrs. Cleary where she finds her ideas, she replies, "From my own experience and from the world around me." She included a passage about the D.E.A.R. program in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (second chapter) because she was inspired by letters she received from children who participated in "Drop Everything and Read" activities. Their interest and enthusiasm encouraged her to provide the same experience to Ramona, who enjoys D.E.A.R. time with the rest of her class.
Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment of the Arts and the 1984 John Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw. Her Ramona and Her Father and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 were named 1978 and 1982 Newbery Honor Books, respectively.
Among Mrs. Cleary's other awards are the American Library Association's 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Catholic Library Association's 1980 Regina Medal, and the University of Southern Mississippi's 1982 Silver Medallion, all presented in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. In addition, Mrs. Cleary was the 1984 United States author nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, a prestigious international award.
Equally important are the more than 35 statewide awards Mrs. Cleary's books have received based on the direct votes of her young readers. In 2000, to honor her invaluable contributions to children's literature, Beverly Cleary was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. This witty and warm author is truly an international favorite. Mrs. Cleary's books appear in over twenty countries in fourteen languages and her characters, including Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and Beezus and Ramona Quimby, as well as Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse, have delighted children for generations. And her popularity has not diminished.

For Beatrix Potter fans...

England's Royal Ballet offers a magical interpretation of the beloved world of Beatrix Potter and her timeless creatures: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Thumb, the Cunning Fox, and many more. With sets echoing the beautiful scenery of the Lake District, the production combines the artistry of Britain's most talented ballet dancers with the essence of Potter's classic children's stories into a rare experience.
Check out Squirrel Nutkin!
And Mr. Jeremy Fisher!

Squirrel Nutkin Rocks --- but not everyone can spell squirrel!

Beatrix Potter ballet - Jeremy Fisher

Do you know Nicholas?


Nicholas is the first of five books that bring to life the day to day adventures of a young school boy - amusing, endearing and always in trouble. An only child, Nicholas, appears older at school than he does as home and his touchingly naive reaction to situations, cut through the preconceptions of adults and result in a formidable sequence of escapades. This first book in the series contains a collection of nineteen individual stories where, in spite of trying to be good, Nicholas and his friends always seem to end up in some kind of mischief. Whether in the school room, at home, or in the playground, their exuberance often takes over and the results are calamitous – at least for their teachers and parents. Whether confusing the photographer hired to take the class picture, dealing with having to wear glasses for the first time, or trying desperately to help the teacher when the school inspector pays a visit, Nicholas always manages to make matters worse. Nicholas was awarded the 2006 Batchelder Honor Award, which recognizes outstanding children's books published in a foreign language and translated into English. Nicholas was also recognized by The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) as a 2006 Notable Children's Book.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

"Grade 4-6–This classic book about a mischievous schoolboy and his friends, originally published in French in 1959, is now available in English. The expertly translated text is enlivened by artwork by a New Yorker cartoonist to create the unforgettable milieu of Nicholas and his rowdy friends. A collection of 19 escapades, the stories introduce the protagonist and his cohorts as they wreak havoc out of simple, everyday situations at school, on the playground, and at home. Pestering the substitute teacher, trying to adopt a lost dog, and quarreling over soccer positions (only to find there isn't even a ball) make for hilarious and timeless anecdotes that will have readers giggling. Adults will also appreciate Nicholas's childlike perception of each troublesome situation through his comments at the end of each adventure. These charming vignettes beg to be shared aloud in a classroom or library setting. A delightful choice for spicing up middle-grade collections and for exposing kids to stories from abroad." – Jennifer Cogan, Bucks County Free Library, Doylestown, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"...Liberally endowed with Sempe's tiny, comic cartoon figures, these whimsical mini-adventures will captivate readers..." -- Kirkus Reviews

For more about Nicholas, go to

or check out his blog at

Boy, do we love Cece Bell!

Books by Cece Bell

Bee-Wigged (Candlewick Press, 2008) is my favorite book of all the ones that I’ve published. In a crazy way, it is autobiographical, because, like Jerry Bee, I am a wig-wearing child-sized bee who tries to radiate positive energy whenever possible.

See the resemblance?
This book has a twist! And who doesn’t love a book with a twist?
The illustrations for this book were done using acrylics, and lots and lots of hand-cut stencils, and then everything was outlined in black ink. Work, work, work. Whew. But fun.

Lots and lots of hand-cut stencils headed to the dump!
Here’s what Kirkus had to say:
The daffy winsomeness of Bell’s art is given aesthetic heft by her gorgeous use of color, bold outlines containing saturated blues, greens and, of course, bumblebee-yellows. Is Jerry a little too cute to serve as a vehicle to combat prejudice? Hardly—no one’s about to kill this messenger.
Not too shabby!

For much more on Cece Bell, go to

Bemelmans Bar

Best remembered as the creator of the classic Madeline books for children, Ludwig Bemelmans once joked he'd like his tombstone to read: "Tell Them It Was Wonderful." Well, wonderful it was, and still is, at Bemelmans Bar. Named in honor of the legendary artist, Bemelmans is a timeless New York watering hole that has drawn socialites, politicians, movie stars and moguls for more than five decades.
Restored in 2002 by designer Thierry Despont, the bar maintains its Art Deco legacy with chocolate-brown leather banquettes, nickel-trimmed black glass tabletops, a dramatic black granite bar and a 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling. Featuring the only surviving Bemelmans' commission open to the public, the bar combines wit and coziness in unique New York style.

Bar Snacks & Light Meals: 5:30-11:30 p.m.
Entertainment: Sunday to Saturday: 5:30-8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.


The Carlyle was the city's premier luxury residential hotel and served as second home to socialites, politicians and movie stars when Ludwig Bemelmans was commissioned to paint large-scale murals in the hotel bar. The creator of the enormously popular Madeline children's book series as well as a successful artist working for The New Yorker, Vogue and Town and Country, Bemelmans transformed the bar with clever, whimsical scenes of Central Park (including picnicking rabbits). Instead of being paid for the art, Bemelmans exchanged his work for a year and a half of accommodations at The Carlyle for himself and his family.

The New York Times - 2 book reviews for spring!

Children's Books

Wishfully Thinking of Spring

‘When Blue Met Egg’ and ‘And Then It’s Spring’

From “When Blue Met Egg”

As winter slogs on, as it has been known to do exhaustively in New York until April, it is hard to believe that one day spring will come. Especially if you are 4 years old and your calendar years are defined by the inexplicable wastelands between birthdays, Christmas and Halloween.


Written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward
32 pp. Dial. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 5)


By Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
32 pp. A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 7)
From “And Then It’s Spring”
But a hint of sunshine and sky-blue vistas emerge in two attractive new picture books, “When Blue Met Egg,” written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward, and “And Then It’s Spring,” written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, who won a Caldecott Medal in 2011 for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.”
“When Blue Met Egg” is very much a bird-in-New-York story along the lines of Pale Male’s, albeit with far less truth and a lot more whimsy. Blue is a small bird awakened by “something extraordinary flying through the air” that lands in her nest. The observant 4-year-old reader knows this object to be a snowball, though Blue mistakes it for an egg.
What follows is a New York travelogue as Blue searches for Egg’s mother. Together they make their way through the city, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, with one foldout spread offering an aerial view of the Brooklyn Bridge in all its glory.
The mission, needless to say, is a flop, but Blue sticks with Egg as the two pass the winter months visiting various attractions, including, rather improbably, the New York City Opera and the Guggenheim Museum. Only when spring comes does Egg meet her inevitable sloshy fate, though Blue, ever optimistic, finds a way to carry on the friendship.
The book is full of good cheer, New Yorkiness and an “I knew it!” ending like that of P.D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?” It doesn’t really surprise the reader, but makes him feel wiser nonetheless. Ward’s engaging and imperfectly cut cut-paper illustrations are full of witty urban references. Crossword puzzles shade Central Park’s hills of snow, and maps of Manhattan color the East River. Throughout, Blue, topped with an eccentric cherry-colored hat, flits brightness into the winter landscape.
A child clad in red woolens provides much the same function in “And Then It’s Spring,” which opens with a dreary landscape. “First you have brown, all around you have brown,” observes the bespectacled boy as winter drones unpromisingly into late winter, and finally, glacially, into early spring.
In Erin E. Stead’s delicate, atmospheric illustrations, a melancholic cloud always hangs overhead, lending a pensive tone that meshes nicely with Fogliano’s rambling, meditative text. This is a story about waiting and waiting and waiting, a gloomy subject, unleavened by humor (with the brief exception of some stomping bears) — it may hit rather close to home for young readers. Combined with the muddy browns and the boy’s opaque glasses, the effect could leave small children a little cold, even as it appeals to their world-weary parents.
If only we didn’t have to wait till the very last page for spring.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kids Book Review: Review: The High Street

Kids Book Review: Review: The High Street: If the cover doesn't instantly suck you into this gorgeous book, you've probably got your eyes shut. Of course, a cover can sometimes be...