By Leslie Colin Tribble
It's been awhile since I've talked about some new books we've received at the library where I work. There have been a lot of great books come in, and just as quickly go right back out in the hands of eager children. Our library was closed from mid-March until June when we reopened to the public, but during that time we were super busy providing materials to library patrons of all ages through our curbside delivery program. Every day there were lots of tall stacks of picture books waiting to be picked up by eager families.
Now that we're open again, I had a hard time getting new picture books to bring home so I could write about them. Kids and adults came in and stripped the shelves bare of all the new books they hadn't gotten to read for nearly three months.
Here are a few books I grabbed one morning before we opened so I could have something to talk about.
Here We Go Digging for Dinosaur Bones - Susan Lendroth and Bob Kolar. Set to the tune of "here we go round the mulberry bush" this simple picture book brings the world of paleontology to young children. Four scientists take off in their jeep on a warm and sunny morning to look for dinosaur bones. The song part of the text is featured in larger font across the double page spreads, while a small paragraph of factual information sits on the lower right corner. The process of discovery, excavation, sifting, and transporting fossils continues until we finally see a picture of the dinosaur in all its terrifying glory. The book finishes with three short pages of back matter and some activities readers can do to go along with the actions of the story. I really appreciated the simple, clean illustrations and the hidden animals which you might actually see at a fossil site in Montana where the book is based. I'm always searching for fossils on my walks in Wyoming so I really enjoyed this book.
Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures - Tricia Springstubb and Elaheh Taherian.
Khalil and his family live in the upstairs of a house, while Mr. Hagerty lives downstairs. They both enjoy spending time in the yard and each helps the other with words - words that Khalil can't pronounce while he's reading, and words that Mr. Hagerty can't remember when he's talking. Both characters have the same idea about finding backyard treasures and discover a new word, Friend. I liked the juxtaposition of young and old yet the commonality of both needing help with words. The illustrations are eye catching and the story is just lovely. At one point Khalil and Mr. Hagerty share slices of chocolate cake and milk - what's not to love about that?
My Friend Earth - Patricia MacLachlan and Francesca Sanna. This is a beautiful book of dynamic illustrations in muted tones of blues, greens and browns with lots of cutouts for peeking onto the next page. The story is about the flow of seasons and how Earth creates homes for her creatures. I loved the Earth child interacting with, and caring for, her family. There's a lot to discuss while reading this book including weather events and things like floods, drought and the cycle of life on our planet.
Free for You and Me - Christy Mihaly and Manu Montoya. I found the Grog's very own Christy Mihaly on our new shelves with her book on the First Amendment. Written in verse, Christy does a beautiful job explaining our First Amendment and what that means to ordinary citizens. Everyone should read this book and get a refresher course on this bedrock law of our country. I like how each section of the amendment is further explained through talk bubbles, showing in a concrete way what that particular Freedom means. Christy finishes off the book with four pages of backmatter to round out the discussion. Thanks Christy and Manu for creating such an important book.
My last selection is a YA nonfiction book. I've never featured a YA book before, but when this one came across my desk this week I knew I had to share.
Dancing at the Pity Party: a dead mom graphic memoir - Tyler Feder. This book deals with the very important, yet almost taboo, subject of a parent dying. Tyler Feder's mother died when she was a college freshman and she created this graphic novel ten years later. The book frankly deals with all the emotions, the hardships, and life upheavals a child (of any age) experiences with the death of a parent. I feel the graphic novel format makes it very accessible to young people - it's not like trying to read an adult book on grief which oftentimes isn't much more than a lot of words that don't have any meaning. As a graphic novel it's easy to read, easy to understand the emotions, and if the reader has experienced a similar loss, easy to feel like someone gets you. My own children lost their father at 12 and 7 years and I wish I'd had this book to help them identify and be able to discuss their own struggles. Although the story is sad, it also beautifully displays the deep relationship between a daughter and her mother. And the story ends on a simple, but hopeful note of continuance.
So there's my latest roundup. Libraries are opening back up to their patrons so get out to your local branch and check out some of these great books.