Lucy can’t sing. She wishes she could, but she just can’t seem to carry a tune. Her sister Gracie has a lovely voice. Even her brother Teddy who is not quite 2 and who hardly even talks, can sing perfectly in tune. However, only Lucy really knows that Teddy can sing at all. It’s their secret until a family crisis brings his talents to light. Every year Lucy and her family pack up their van, chickens and all, and go to help her mom’s aunt Frankie in North Dakota during the rainy season when the river floods. This year the raging river looks particularly fierce to young Lucy. When little Teddy goes missing one afternoon it is up to Lucy to overcome her fear of not only the river, but also singing, in order to find him.
In Fly Away Patricia MacLachlan has captured the essence of the child’s point of view beautifully. Told from Lucy’s perspective, the family trip to Aunt Frankie’s takes on a childlike wonder. While the flooding river and the storms that cause it are certainly precarious, Lucy’s perspective adds a level of intensity that is specific to her youth. In addition, something as simple as her inability to sing carries extra feeling because we are experiencing the emotions through Lucy’s filter.
Fly Away is a short, but moving story about what it means to be part of a family and accepting the talents we have been given instead of lamenting those we have not. It would make a good choice for fans of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books or Tomie DePaola’s memoir series. Readers who enjoy Fly Away should also try MacLachlan’s White Fur Flying as well.
Posted by: Staci
When you read Stanley the Builder with its simple story, likeable characters, and bright illustrations, it brings to mind another favorite character named Maisy. And I LOVE Maisy! I think little boys and girls will also love reading Stanley the Builder and the other stories about Stanley as well – Stanley’s Diner, Stanley the Farmer, and Stanley’s Garage. This book is just the right length for those little ones who typically have a very short attention span, but will be able to sit for Stanley. I like the boyish themes in the series; and just as with Maisy, I think boys and girls (and parents) will enjoy reading these very much! Yeah!
Posted by: Mary
Holiday gift buying season and Richard Scarry is a safe choice, but for good reason. When I started my Library career it was during a time when most of Scarry’s work was out of print. Libraries were holding on to tattered copies of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, Busy Town, Busy People and Busy, Busy World Book and the like because although the books may not have been purchased in a while, people were still sharing them with their children. Finally, someone figured out that these well- loved copies of Richard Scarry books were not enough. New people were being born, needing an introduction to the world from Huckle the Cat, Bananas Gorilla, and Lowly Worm. So recently, much of Scarry’s book has been put back into print.
The Best of Lowly Worm is actually a new addition to the Scarry canon that Scarry’s son completed after finding the start of the book in Scarry’s unfinished works. In true Scarry fashion, the pages are packed with details, each double page spread featuring another concept important to early childhood development including counting, letters and getting dressed. Children and adults will love looking at the pages many times over, watching new subplots unfold with every viewing among the characters and situations featured in this book. Scarry’s books are a perfect way to introduce young preschoolers to new vocabulary as they will find the art so appealing, they won’t be able to stop looking and wondering at all of the new words and situations.
Pick up some of Richard Scarry’s work at the Library, choose your favorite and buy it for the young child in your life to keep this classic children’s illustrator’s books alive and well on your shelves at home and in the Library.
Posted by: Kelly
If you have anyone in your life that enjoys knocking down towers or destroying things, Rex Wrecks It! is the story for you. Gizmo the robot, Sprinkles the bunny, and Wild the monster love to build things, but Rex always wrecks them. From block towers to rockets and magical hearts, Rex wrecks it all. After he wrecks their awesomerific block tower, they finally realize that the solution is to build something as a team and knock it down together. They discover that it really is more fun to work as a team. Kids will enjoy shouting the refrain and you can’t help but not like Rex. I love his apologetic “rawry” after knocking down the block tower. This is a story that will be read again and again. It’s also a great story to share with older siblings with a little one in the family that likes to destroy things. On a side note, depending on your kids, I’d recommend skipping the blockhead comment in the story. We didn’t when we read it, and now my kids have a new name to call each other.
Posted by: Liz
I think many children (and adults) have at one time or another wanted to change their name. Stella Batts is no exception, especially when a boy in her class calls her Smella!
Stella is eight years old and wants to be a writer when she grows up. Stella loves that her parents own a candy shop where their specialty fudge is named after her. However, she does not love her name. Stella recently went on a class nature walk and something happened that she does not want to talk about. But now she wants a new name. Stella picks a new name, but then has second thoughts about her decision.
Courtney Sheinmel has created a likeable character. Stella goes through typical ups and downs that many third graders can relate to such as dealing with a mean classmate, hanging out with a group of friends, and having a younger sibling that wants to be just like her big sister. This story would be great for those who are just starting with chapter books. Charming black and white illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell add to the pleasant appeal of the book.
If you liked reading about Stella, you’re in luck! Young readers can enjoy more adventures about this enthusiastic third grader in the rest of her early chapter book series.
Posted by: Katie
It’s maple syrup season! One cold, gray morning, a family gets ready to take a trip to the farm to hunt for golden maple syrup. They play in the white snow with friends before climbing aboard a sleigh which takes them on a colorful trip to the farm. Bright colors are all around – a red cardinal bird, the snowman’s orange carrot nose, a yellow tractor, pink cheeks, green evergreen trees. When they arrive at Mr. Sweet’s Famous Sugar Maple Farm, they notice that each tree has a silver pail to collect the sweet sap. The farmer shows them the sugar shack where they boil the sap in sturdy black pans. Finally it’s time for some breakfast! Inside the farmhouse their snowsuits hang on pegs making a rainbow of colors, while on the table a golden pancake and maple syrup awaits.
The simple, rhyming text in this book introduces or reinforces so many colors and is beautifully illustrated with vibrant artwork. I’m certainly ready for a winter’s sleigh ride to a farm while taking in the colorful sights along the way!
Posted by: Wendy
The Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to share an appreciation for food and cooking with kids. It is a time to be grateful for the food we have that nourishes us, and to share with others who don’t have as much. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a book recommendation for you! With his signature folk-art illustrations, Tomie DePaola’s picture book Pascual and the Kitchen Angels recounts the legend of San Pascual, known to many Catholics (especially in Spain and Latin America) as the patron saints of cooks and the kitchen.
Pascual was born in 16th century Spain and was very devout from a young age. After working as a shepherd for most of his young life, he left home to become a Franciscan friar so he could help feed the poor. Because he had no formal education, the friars accepted him as a lay brother and he was assigned the task of cooking for the brothers. The trouble was, Pascual knew nothing about cooking! According to the legend that DePaola recounts, Pascual prayed to God for help, and angels came down from heaven and cooked a delicious meal fit for the friars. So, Pascual was able to fulfill his kitchen duties while never ceasing to pray.
San Pascual is known for living a life of prayer, humility, and service to others. The legend of his miraculous cooking is inspiring – it reminds us that cooking and eating can transcend the ordinary and become something that truly nourishes our souls and allows us to give to others.
Posted by: Parry