Posts from the ‘Bibliography’ Category

Grandparent’s Day with Grand Books

In honor of Grandparent’s Day last month, I compiled a list of picture books featuring grandparents. I then promptly got sicker than a dog for the entire month of September with allergies and assorted other ailments, missed three days of work, and completely forgot to post it. I thought about waiting and posting it next year, but there really isn’t any reason to do that. So here it is as a Friday Feature, a month late and a dollar short, isn’t that how the saying goes? Obviously this list isn’t all inclusive, so leave some of your favorite books featuring grandparents in the comments section below.

Nana in the CityTitle: Nana in the City
Author/Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
ISBN: 9780544104433
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2014

Lauren Castillo’s vibrant watercolor illustrations (recognized by the Caldecott Committee for an honor earlier this year) portray fall in the unnamed city with visual illusions to New York. A small boy visits his grandmother and spends the night, at first fearful of the sounds and sights surrounding him. Nana stays up knitting him a “fancy red cape” to wear on their walk as he realizes that the city isn’t so scary after all. In a touching scene, the boy bestows the cape to Nana, probably thinking she needs it more than he does. But Castillo’s pictures show an active and independent elder who relishes the loud and busy nature of the city. The phrases “The city is busy, the city is loud” repeat at the beginning and end of the story, but they take on new mean by the end. The tale of the city mouse and country mouse has been updated for modern times, with succinct and descriptive language perfect for story times involving fall, cities, knitting or nanas.

Last Stop on Market StreetTitle: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt De La Pena
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
ISBN: 9780399257742
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, published by the Penguin Group, c2015.

Full review can be read here.

My ElephantTitle: My Elephant
Author/Illustrator: Petr Horacek
ISBN: 9780763645663
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2009

I asked Grandpa to play ball with me, but he was too busy.
I went to see Grandma, but she was too busy too.
So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me.

One read-headed boy occupies his time at his grandparents by playing with his elephant. It’s not his fault that the elephant messed up the flower bed and the hallway, splashed water all over the bathroom floor, knocked over the orange juice and ate all the cupcakes. Regardless of how imaginary the elephant might be, it a truth commonly ignored that not every visit to the grandparents goes off without a hitch. I love that the elephant is drawn in scribbled crayon, make his imaginary state all the more obvious alongside the more solidly colored (painted/collaged?) characters and setting.

Knuffle Bunny FreeTitle: Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9780061929571
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, c2010.

Trixie is visiting her “Oma” and “Opa” in Holland, which is far away. She’s bringing her trusty Knuffle Bunny with her, but if anyone has seen the previous two books, Knuffle Bunny typically has difficulty ending up staying with Trixie. Trixie is sad for a while, but realizes maybe she is growing up and Knuffle Bunny might make some other children happy. Then something unexpected happens that proves her right.
One really big plus with this book is that it’s not Grandma and Grandpa that Trixie visits, but Oma and Opa. Many children have their own names for their grandparents, and being able to find books that use different titles to compare and contrast and lead discussions can be difficult. The fold-out sequence featuring kids in different places is also a nice discussion prompt, but it does make it difficult to use for read-aloud, especially when sharing outdoors on a windy day which I did recently. (As a side note, I remarked that the wind was fighting me and one kid quipped in all seriousness that I should “fight back”.) It shows an all too common occurrence in a child’s life of outgrowing a beloved toy and that it’s okay to grow up and discover new things to enjoy. There is a note to Trixie that is included after the book says “the end” which I usually skip when doing story times, but I heard a couple of parents who have read the story sharing with parents who haven’t. Maybe I’ll start including it, since the parents who are familiar with it seem to get so much joy out of it. It shows Trixie growing up, starting a family and one day receiving a package with a special someone inside for her little toddler to enjoy. This may become one of those stories that, like Knuffle Bunny, gets passed around when the time is right to those who need it.

I'm Not Sleepy!Title: I’m Not Sleepy!
Author/Illustrator: Jane Chapman
ISBN: 9781561487653
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Good Books, c2012. (originally published in English by Little Tiger Press, c2012.)

Grandma Owl carries Mo up to the top of the tree and settles him in for bed. But Mo isn’t sleepy, and Grandma is pulled from her book time and again with requests for a snack, and tucking in, and maybe even playtime. Grandma tells Mo that since he isn’t sleepy and someone has to go to sleep at bedtime, maybe he should put her to bed. All that flying back and forth tuckers him out, just in time for bedtime. The large feathery faces never change, only the eyes and beak and body carry the weight of expressing the love and support the two show for each other. The repeating refrain of “Hop…Jump… Flutter… FLUMP!” as Grandma and eventually Mo ascend to the nest at the top of the tree grounds the story, and makes a nice chorus for read aloud groups. I was slightly disappointed in the illustrations, as although the words describe fading stars and retreating bats, the pictures are solely focused on Grandma and Mo and the end page shows a decidedly nighttime scene when everyone knows owls sleep during the day. It’s still a sweet bedtime story that should be shared with your own owlet.

Silas' Seven GrandparentsTitle: Silas’ Seven Grandparents
Author: Anita Horrocks
Illustrator: Helen Flock
ISBN: 9781551435619
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Orca Book Publishers, c2010

And when Silas’ mom and dad decided to go away for a few days on a business trip, seven grandparents invited Silas to stay with them.

Is there such a thing as too many grandparents? Silas is only one boy after all, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by picking one over the other. Nana likes to look at stars, Oma and Opa like to work in the garden and feed the birds, Gamma and Papa like to swim and let him drive the golf cart, and Granny and Grandad took him fishing and canoeing. So instead, he invites all seven of his grandparents to come stay with him. Silas’s collection of multicultural grandparents give the impression of the elderly in all shapes and sizes leading active lifestyles in very different and unique settings. While not every grandparent is as energetic as the ones portrayed, it does spread an important message that you can never have too much love or too many memories of your times together.

Look Back!Title: Look Back!
Author: Trish Cooke
Illustrator: Caroline Binch
ISBN: 9781566569804
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., c2014. (originally published in the United Kingdom by Paillote Press)

”Well,” Grannie said, “I have heard that Ti Bolom is short, short, short, his foot long, long, long and flat, flat, flat. He has a big head and two big, black eyes and when you walking alone at night, minding your own business, Ti Bolom walks behind you,
pattaps pattaps…
huh huh huh.
But when you turn around… he’s not there. He’s gone!” (unpaged)

After hearing the story of Grannie’s attempts to catch the illusive Ti Bolom when she was living in Dominica in a young child, Christopher attempts to do the same. For such a climatic and engaging story, Christopher’s shortened equivalent version falls flat and provides an anticlimactic ending. I feel like the whole tale would have been stronger if they had left out Christopher’s part, and ended with the uncertainty of where Ti Bolom could be. The drawings are filled with vibrant colors, lifelike down to the wrinkles and muscles and the individual braids and curls on the children’s heads. The dialect is also strong in the narration, mimicking that of an oral story-teller. If done properly, this might make a good story to tell instead of read, or break into a reader’s theatre opportunity. The call and response might have to be prefaced or explained to audiences unfamiliar with that story telling technique.

Tea Cakes for ToshTitle: Tea Cakes for Tosh
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
ISBN: 9780399252136
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.

Tosh loves when his grandma Honey bakes her golden tea cakes, from a recipe passed down from when his grandma’s grandma’s grandma was a slave cook on a plantation. But then grandma Honey starts forgetting things, like where she parked the car, a phone number, and even the ingredients for the beloved tea cakes. But luckily Tosh has already been taught how to make them, and helps Honey remember the story behind the tradition. An important lesson of learning traditions, recipes, and family history before you are no longer able to learn those stories, but also an introduction for young children to the concept of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. A recipe is included in the back if any readers feel inclined to taste a piece of history.


September 11th in Picture Books

I debated with myself whether or not I should do this post. Not just because I figured that other websites would be doing similar tributes on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center Attacks and would probably do it better than I ever could. And I realize that it is timely, it’s relevant, and someone might just find my post informative. I understand the desire to commemorate these events and recognize the multitude of stories that happened in someway. I am as enthralled as everyone else in learning about the heroics and the unknown stories that people might be writing about. Unfortunately, I also recognize that some people commemorate the events or do certain things to profit from the intrigue, whether it be monetary or non-monetary gain. I don’t want to be lumped into those people. Personally, I’m doing this post to make people aware of these books, which are available for use with children who might not be familiar with the events. While not specifically talking about the towers and terrorism, they provide a starting point for conversations, and where they might lead is up to the child and the adult.

Title: The Little Chapel That Stood
Author: A. B. Curtiss
Illustrator: Mirto Golino
ISBN: 0932529771
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: OldCastle Publishing, c2003.

This rhyming picture book tells the story of the September 11th events but focuses on the Chapel of Old St. Paul, which according to the verse
“Since Seventeen Hundred and Sixty Six
Has stood this house of God and bricks.”
What really bring the emotion into focus is her stanzas forecasting
“But doom, doom was coming all the time
Doom, doom to a city fair and fine;
Doom, doom was in the planes that climbed;
Doom, doom, and then the sirens whined.”
That cadence specifically reminds me of Casey at the Bat, and if you don’t hear the upcoming horror in her word choice, just look at Golino’s accompanying illustrations, which show a plane almost touching the tip of its nose to one of the towers. Other small details that readers might want to keep their eyes peeled for is the symbolic shadow adjacent to the firefighters raising the flag, and the t-shirt of a boy visiting a firehouse to thank its residents. While the images are not graphic in nature, the poem reveals little details that might disturb younger audiences, like the fact that fire fighters left shoes on the iron fence as they pulled on their boots, never to return to reclaim them. In my opinion its the last lines which are the most poignant:
“It’s nice to be big and it’s nice to be tall
But sometimes, being little
Doesn’t mean being small.”

Title: 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy, in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
ISBN: 9781561454907
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Peachtree Publishers, c2009.

It’s Thomas Gonzalez’s pictures that really create an eye-catching and striking presentation and a somber tone of remembrance. Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah (called Kimeli in the book) returns to his Kenyan Maasai village nine months after witnessing the events of September 11th while studying to be a doctor. He relates the events, and asks the elders to bless his only cow as a gift to the Americans, because as the text relates “To the Maasai, the cow is life”. Other villagers join in this presentation, and in the end 14 cows are dedicated for America. While the text itself is sparse and adheres to the less is more philosophy, it’s the note at the end that elaborates on this concept and the meaning behind the villagers actions. Kimeli teaches us that “To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own.” Kimeli feared that “some pains are too big for one chest to carry,” and so other villagers offered their own cows. The cows have calved and now number 35. I wonder if the day will come when the herd eventually grow so that there is one for every person who lost their life on that day. There is a website,, that also provides additional information about the cows and the culture, which would be great to aid in discussions.

Title: Fireboat : the heroic adventures of the John J. Harvey
Author: Maira Kalman
ISBN: 0399239537
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, c2002.

This book was published about a year after the World Trade Center fell, and it’s also the most straightforward of the books on the list. In it, Kalman portrays the original use of the John J. Harvey fireboat to fight fires 70 years before the Towers were attacked. Almost scrapped for the metal, a group of citizens band together to save the fireboat. It’s a good thing they did, since after the firefighters ran out of water pressure, they enlisted the help of the John J. Harvey and two other fireboats to first ferry people away from the fire and then pump water out of the Hudson. Featuring pictures of two plains flying very close to the towers and another one with firework like explosions, it presents in the most obvious manner what happened that day, which some might feel is a little too much for younger readers. Look it over yourself before picking this as a read aloud (which you should always do anyways) and make your own decision. More information about the John J. Harvey can be found on the website

Title: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
Author: Mordicai Gerstein
ISBN: 0761328688
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press, c2003.

We’ve had three books featuring a chapel, a fireboat, and cows. This last picture book recommendation features a man who saw the towers from an undeniably unique perspective. If you’re looking for something with more discrete ties to the events of September 11th, this might be the book for you. This Caldecott Award Winner tells the story of Philippe Petit’s 1974 hour-long tightrope walk between the two towers. He and his friends secretly suspended a rope from one end to the other during the night, and Philippe proceeded to elude police and capture by dancing and performing on the rope. The pictures will inspire readers’ imaginations to soar to new heights with the breath-taking views both from the air and from the ground. While not specifically about September 11th, the book can’t help but pay tribute to the now missing playground, and broached the topic with deftness.

Have I missed any? How did you explain the events today to the young children in your life?

Friday Feature: Russell Freedman’s Books

As promised, to finish up my week of Russell Freedman, I’m supplying a bibliography with a list of his books and the awards they have won. I compiled this list using

  • the Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolexcent Literature at Rhode Island College website, which provided a wonderful starting point for this list
  • Also’s list of books authored by Freedman helped fill in the most recent titles
  • Finally, might have a new fan with it’s compilation of titles and awards.

Any missing or incorrect data is problably my own fault, so please let me know and I can edit as necessary.

In addition to the awards his books have received, he has also been honored with the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (1998), given to authors who have been adjudged to have made over a period of years a consistent and lasting contribution to literature for young readers. In 2007, Russell Freedman received one of the National Humanities Medals for that year.


  • The Adventures of Marco Polo, A.A. Levine Books, 2006.
  • *Golden Kite Award, 2006
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 2006
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2007

  • Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights, Clarion Books, 2004.
  • *Newbery Honor Book, 2005
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2005
    *Sibert Medal 2005
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2005
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 2004
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 2004
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2004
    *Orbis Pictus Award Honor, 2005

  • Confucius: The Golden Rule, Scholastic, 2002.
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2003
  • *NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2003
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2002

  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias: The Making of a Champion, Clarion Books, 1999.
  • *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2000
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1999
    *NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2000
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2000

  • Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life, Clarion Books, 1998.
  • *Golden Kite Award Nonfiction, 1998
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1999
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1999
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1998
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 1999

  • Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille. Clarion Books, 1997.
  • *Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee (1999-2000.3|Intermediate, 1999-2000)

  • The Life and Death of Crazy Horse, Holiday House, 1996.
  • *Spur Award – Best Western Juvenile Fiction 1996
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1997
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1997
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1996
    *ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 1997
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 1997

  • Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, Clarion Books, 1993.
  • *Newberry Honor Book, 1994
    *Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Book 1994
    *Boston Globe-Horn Book Award — Non-Fiction 1994
    *Golden Kite Award — Nonfiction 1993
    *First Flora Stieglitz Straus Award 1994
    *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1995-96
    *Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee 1996
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1994
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1994
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1993

  • The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane. Holiday House, 1991.
  • *Newberry Honor Book 1992
    *Boston Globe-Horn Book Award 1991
    *Fairfax County Public Library Booklist Jefferson Cup 1992
    *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1993-94
    *Golden Kite Award — Nonfiction 1991
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1992
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1992
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1991
    *Jefferson Cup 1992

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Clarion Books, 1990.
  • *Fairfax County Public Library Booklist Jefferson Cup 1991
    *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1992-93
    *Best of the Best: Children’s Literature Award 1993-94
    *Golden Kite Award 1990
    *Orbis Pictus Award
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1991
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1991
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1990
    *Jefferson Cup 1991

  • Lincoln: A Photography Clarion Books, 1987.
  • *Newberry Medal Winner 1988
    *Fairfax County Public Library Booklist Jefferson Cup 1988
    *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1989-90
    *ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults 1988
    *Golden Kite Honor Nonfiction, 1987
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1988

  • Indian Chiefs, Holiday House, 1987.
  • *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1989-90
    *ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults 1987
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1988

  • Scouting with Baden-Powell, Holiday House, 1967.
  • Jules Verne: Portrait of a Prophet, Holiday House, 1965.


  • UPCOMING! The War to End All Wars: World War I, Clarion Books, 2010.
  • Washington at Valley Forge, Holiday House, 2008.
  • *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2008
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2009

  • Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas. Clarion Books, 2007.
  • *Cybils Finalist — Nonfiction Middle Grade and Young Adult Books 2007
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 2007
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2007
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2008

  • Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Holiday House, 2006.
  • *Cybils Award — Nonfiction Middle Grade and Young Adult Books 2006
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2007
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 2006
    *Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee 2008-2009
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2006
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2007

  • Children of the Great Depression, Clarion Books, 2005.
  • *Golden Kite Award Nonfiction, 2005
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2006

  • In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights, Holiday House, 2003.
  • *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2004
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 2003
    *School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2003
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2004

  • In the Days of the Vaqueros: America’s First True
  • Cowboys, Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
    *Spur Award Juvenile Nonfiction 2002
    *NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2002
    *ALA Notable Children’s Book 2002

  • Give Me Liberty: The Story of the Declaration of Independence, Holiday House, 2000.
  • *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2001
    *NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2001

  • Kids At Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor, Clarion Books, 1994
  • *Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winner – 1995
    *Parents Choice Award 1994
    *Orbis Pictus Honors Book 1995
    *William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee 1996-97
    *Utah Children’s Information Book Award Nominee 1996-97
    *Golden Kite Award 1994
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1995
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1995

  • An Indian Winter, Holiday House, 1995.
  • *Western Heritage Award 1995
    *Golden Kite Honor Nonfiction 1992
    *ALA Best Books for Young Adults 1993
    *BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 1992

  • Buffalo Hunt, Holiday House, 1995
  • *Carter G. Woodson Book Award 1989
    *Golden Kite Honor Nonfiction 1988
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1989

  • Immigrant Kids, Dutton, 1980
  • *ALA Notable Book

  • Getting Born, Holiday House, 1978.
  • *New York Academy of Science Annual Children’s Book Award Honorable Mention

  • Cowboys of the Wild West Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
  • *ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2001.01 | Western, 2001)

  • Holiday House: The First Fifty Years, Holiday House, 1985.
  • Sharks, Holiday House, 1985.
  • Animal Superstars: Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Smartest, Simon & Schuster, 1984.
  • Rattlesnakes, Holiday House, 1984.
  • Children of the Wild West, Clarion Books, 1983.
  • *Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nonfiction Honor Book 1984
    *A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1985

  • Dinosaurs and Their Young. Holiday House, 1983.
  • Can Bears Predict Earthquakes?: Unsolved Mysteries of Animal Behavior, Simon & Schuster, 1982.
  • Killer Snakes, Holiday House, 1982.
  • Killer Fish, Holiday House, 1982.
  • Farm Babies, Holiday House, 1981.
  • When Winter Comes, Penguin USA, 1981.
  • They Lived with Dinosaurs, Holiday House, 1980.
  • Tooth and Claw: A Look at Animal Weapons, Holiday House, 1980.
  • How Animals Defend Their Young, Penguin USA, 1978.
  • Hanging On: How Animals Carry Their Young, Holiday House, 1977.
  • How Birds Fly, Holiday House, 1977.
  • Animal Games, Holiday House, 1976.
  • Animal Fathers, Holiday House, 1976.
  • Growing Up Wild: How Young Animals Survive, Holiday House, 1975.
  • The First Days of Life, Holiday House, 1974.
  • The Brains of Animals and Man, Holiday House, 1972.
  • Animal Architechts, Holiday House, 1971.
  • Teenagers Who Made History, Holiday House, 1961.
  • Two-Thousand Years of Space Travel, Holiday House, 1958.
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