Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Last week I was looking though a pile of well reviewed illustrated books for kids. These were books that might be good enough to merit the Caldecott Medal in 2016. As you can imagine, mostly the pile contained picture books and some poetry books with a few non-fiction books thrown in too. Then there was this one!

roller girl

Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson, is a 239 page graphic novel about a fifth grader named Astrid. After watching her first roller derby bout she’s fired up to join derby camp in the summer and meet her hero, Rainbow Bite. There’s just as much action in this book as you’d expect from a book about roller derby but there’s lots of preteen drama too. There are new friends and old friends and mothers who don’t understand. Everything about his book was engaging and fun. Oh, and educational! I learned how scoring works in a roller derby bout and what different positions do for the team.

What makes this book even greater is knowing that the woman who wrote the story and made all the great illustrations is also a roller girl! You can visit her website here to learn a little more about her writing, drawing, and skating.


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Five Favorite Literary Villains

There are plenty of villains in children’s literature. Some of these villains are big and bad and have a tendency to blow houses down, while others lure children into candy houses for…um…dinner. Today I’m going to count down five of my favorite literary villains.

Cat in the Hat5. The Cat from Cat in the Hat.

This feisty feline may seem like a lot of fun, but he has a penchant for messing up houses when parents are away. He is an unwanted guest who does not seem to take a hint, even when he’s blatantly asked to leave. Despite all the mischief he causes, this cat does have a redeeming quality:  He picks up his toys after he’s done, leaving the house spotless for when the parents do arrive home.

Snow White4. Any witch from a Grimm’s fairy tale.

Whether they’re poisoning apples (Evil Queen in Snow White) or throwing tantrums because they weren’t invited to a party (Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty), the witches of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales sure do know how to cause a ruckus. While many of today’s children are probably more familiar with the Disney versions, the original Grimm witches are just as chilling (maybe even more so).

The Bad Beginning3. Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events.

When it comes to bad guardians, children’s literature is full of them:  the Dursleys in Harry Potter, Matilda’s parents, etc. But Count Olaf takes the cake. Not only is he suspected of starting the fire that killed the Baudelaire children’s parents, but he also treats the children very poorly and attempts to trick the oldest, Violet, into marrying him so that he could get their inheritance. Olaf is definitely a horrible person, but a great villain.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz2. The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

This witch has a fear of water and an obsession with a pair of silver (not ruby) shoes. She’s the most feared witch in all of Oz, and she controls a horde of various animals, including wolves, crows, bees, and, of course, winged monkeys.  Her heart is so black that she not only captures a little girl, but her little dog too. While the movie version made her iconic in 1939, this witch has been causing chaos in Oz since 1900.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone1. Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter.

While he started out as a bright, young Hogwarts student, Lord Voldemort’s vaulting ambition and thirst for power caused him to split his soul seven ways, which resulted in him becoming the biggest baddie in the Harry Potter universe. Therefore, he’s at the top of my list of literary villains.


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They’re baaaack!

It is wonderful to see a long-time favorite author with a new book. Nancy Shaw, author and illustrator of multiple, delightfully silly books about a flock of sheep who manage to create chaos and trouble wherever they go, has recently published Sheep go to Sleep.


sheep go to sleep

From a ship, to a shop, in a jeep, and now asleep, the hapless sheep are sure to bring a grin to everyone’s face who shares these tales.
In addition to the humor of the stories and the art, the rhyming text is easy to follow, encouraging guesses and retelling, two strategies that help pre-readers and readers alike.
What authors do you wish would write another book?

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Four Favorites

One of the things that I love most about being a librarian is that I get to take a sneak peak at books before they hit the library shelves. There’s a brief window of time between us getting the book and putting it out on the shelves for everyone to enjoy, and during that time I try to read — or at least browse — the new picture books.

Here are four picture books that will be hitting a shelf near you very soon:

Boy Who Loved the MoonThe Boy Who Loved the Moon by Rino Alaimo.

This book features a cute story about a young boy who wants to give the moon a gift. But what gift could you possibly give a moon? He tries a rose, a pearl, and a diamond, but the moon rejects them all. Finally, the boy comes up with a gift that no one has tried before. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that while the story is very sweet, it’s the illustrations that completely steal the show. All pictures, with one notable exception, are done in varying shade of orange/gold on a black background, and the effect is perfect for this fantastical story!

One Word from SophiaOne Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail.

Most children wish for a pet to call their own. Some want a dog. Others prefer cats. And of course there are plenty who want a pony. Not Sophia; she wants…a giraffe. She knows that convincing her family to get such an unusual animal will take some work, so she drafts up elaborate arguments, equipped with charts and graphs. But all it takes to get her giraffe is one simple word: please. While there’s a part of me that’s worried that children reading this story will ask for a giraffe of their own (and, let’s be honest, saying “please” just won’t work in real life for this particular animal), I still love this story’s moral of being polite. I also REALLY love the vocabulary. This book features words such as “effusive” and “loquacious,” and it even offers a glossary in the back. Very cool!

My Rules for Being a Pretty PrincessMy Rules for Being a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie

Who doesn’t love a good princess book? This book debunks the myth that princesses must always be poised and perfect. Throughout the book, a rambunctious girl is instructed on how to be a perfect princess. But she decides that those rules just aren’t for her; therefore, she drafts up some new rules. These rules include attending delicious tea parties, dancing however you want, and not waiting for the prince to save you. I would hand this book to any princess fanatic who might want a change from the typical princess stories.

Snow White and the 77 DwarfsSnow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali

I admit that I really, really love fractured fairy tales, and this one is amazing! It starts off as the original tale did with Snow White running away from her wicked step-mother. However, instead of finding 7 dwarfs, she finds 77 dwarfs! That’s a lot of dwarfs to take care of, and it isn’t long before Snow White is exhausted from all the work. Again, I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it’s sure to make you chuckle! While I love the spin this story takes, I also really, really love the colorful illustrations. This book really catches your eye, and I can see children examining the humorous pictures and naming all 77 dwarfs.


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…But I’m going to have to wait because they’re not published yet.

Summer Reading is right around the corner! Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited to tackle some of the books on my intimidating TBR (to be read) list. Some of those books have been on my list for years, others are more recent, and still others…aren’t published yet. Here’s a look at just a few of the books that are coming out this summer:

Lost in the SunLost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Look at that cover! I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but if that one doesn’t catch your eye, then I don’t know what will! Stunning covers aside, Lisa Graff is a well-known and talented author for middle grade fiction. Lost in the Sun tells the story of Trent, a boy who hopes to escape a traumatic event and start fresh in middle school. Unfortunately, as many of us know, it’s near impossible to make a fresh start in middle school. This book has gotten 3 starred reviews so far, and many reviewers are applauding Graff for her ability to cover a lot of emotional ground while still maintaining some humor in the story. This book will be out at the end of May, but you can put a hold on it now!

Circus MirandusCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Another book that you can put on hold right now is Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. The circus theme has been enjoying some popularity in middle grade fiction these past couple of years. Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan came out in 2011, and The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel came out in 2014. And now Circus Mirandus is joining the queue. Circus Mirandus is about a boy who sets out to find a magical circus that may hold the key to saving his dying grandfather. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, then the circus will be coming to an Allen County Public Library near you on June 2nd!

FloatFloat by Daniel Miyares

Moving on from middle grade, let’s start talking picture books! Float by Daniel Miyares is about a boy, his small paper boat, and his large imagination. This is a wordless picture book that perfectly depicts a gray, rainy day and a little boy’s optimism. The endpapers even contain instructions for making a paper boat of your own for some extra fun! This book is sure to get some buzz around Caldecott season, so keep your eyes peeled for it to hit our shelves in early June.

The Night WorldThe Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

Another picture book that focuses on a color scheme of black, white, and gray is The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein. This is also another book that has a cover that is completely eye-catching. There are many picture books that focus on the night, but I don’t think there are many that do so in such an enthralling way. I can’t wait for this picture book to hit our shelves (around June 16th) so that I can spend what’s sure to be a long time pouring over the fabulous pictures.


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New Kids’ Chapter Books

good ogre stormbound teddy
sweet fart crooks
curious cheese gooseberry black reckoning

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Librarian Confession

Today we got a wonderful new book called Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light.

MY MONSTERIt’s a great book for the younger set about shapes. I can see lots of good uses for it, but do you know what came to mind first? I thought…

This would be a great book to color in!

As a kid, books with lots of fun line drawings like this one made my fingers itch with the urge to get out my colored pencils and go to town. As a librarian, I know how to treat library books with care. I know one should never write in a library book. There are still moments, however, when I imagine how fun it would be to color in a book.

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