Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon

Penguin and PumpkinJust in time for autumn and Halloween, Penguin is back. This time Penguin is off on an adventure to find out what fall is like. Unfortunately, her little brother, Pumpkin, is too small to make the journey. But Penguin doesn’t forget about him and brings him back a little bit of fall.

Not only is this a story about the season but of sibling relationships as well. The cute illustrations share some of the joys of autumn. While Penguin and Pinecone is still my favorite in this series, I love the ending image of snowing leaves in this title.

Posted by: Liz

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Heidi Heckelbeck Gets the Sniffles by Wanda Coven

Heidi Heckelbeck Gets the SnifflesWe all know what it’s like to be excited for something special. Heidi Heckelbeck waits all year long for the Brewster Fall Festival. She’s especially excited this year to go through the haunted barn with her best friend Lucy.

We also all know what it’s like to get sick and have to miss out on something special. Poor Heidi starts sneezing and feeling achy all over. At first she tries hard to ignore her symptoms, but when she becomes feverish she has to admit that she feels overall terrible. She has a really bad cold that she can’t even cure with a special “potion” and she will have to miss going to the long awaited Brewster Fall Festival!

When Heidi finally feels like her old self again, her family and friends delight her with a great surprise. They have turned the garage into a special haunted house just for her. What fun and how scary!

The Heidi Heckelbeck series is always a hit with me. Every page has an illustration that helps the reader further enjoy the story. This easy reader is not only a great read-alone story, but would also be fun to read aloud – especially on a crisp fall day!

Posted by: Wendy

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Bird by Crystal Chan

BirdAs the daughter of a Jamaican father and a Mexican mother growing up in the middle of Iowa, Jewel’s life was never going to be the easiest. However, the fact that Jewel was born on the same day that her brother, Bird, died didn’t really help. Jewel’s grandfather stopped speaking after the tragedy and the rest of the family never fully recovered. Silence and avoidance permeate Jewel’s household as she constantly struggles to step out of her brother’s shadow. Then, one night in her favorite climbing tree Jewel meets a strange boy named John (Bird’s real name), and very quickly things begin to change. Is John a “duppy” – a Jamaican spirit the likes of which Jewel’s father and grandfather blame for the death of Bird? Or is he just a boy trying to find his own place in the world. Regardless of whether his appearance is merely coincidental or the work of stronger forces, John’s presence in the lives of Jewel and her family might be just the thing this family needs to break free of the pain of loss and silence.

Bird is a touching and intelligent look inside the life of a very special girl who has been overlooked for years. Although the story is told from Jewel’s point of view, Chan does a wonderful job of developing all of the important characters in Jewel’s life. We are even able to piece together a picture of Bird, the brother she never met, through the stories and bits and pieces that Jewel has collected over the years. In the audiobook Amandla Stenberg (you may recognize her as Rue from the movie The Hunger Games) provides the perfect voice for Chan’s Jewel. Stenberg’s delivery is bright and sweet and thoughtful while still maintaining an authentic childlike tone. As the story is told from the point of view of Jewel, Stenberg’s minimalist style of character variation works well here. It is clear that when the characters are speaking, we are hearing them as Jewel hears them. Whether reading the print version or listening to the audiobook, readers are sure to form an instant bond with this big-hearted little girl as she tries to come to terms with her family’s demons and make the most of her situation.

Look here for a short video about the story behind Bird.

Posted by: Staci

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Runaway Tomato by Kim Cooley Reeder

Runaway TomatoWhat would happen if the tomatoes in your garden just grew WAY TOO BIG and then started to ROLL toward the town?? YIKES! That’s what happens in the Runaway Tomato. When it starts to rain, the tomato grows and grows until it is so big that it gets stuck in the doorway. Help is definitely needed to pull it out, and in fact the whole town comes to help, but it still won’t budge. Once it is finally free, the firefighters and police officers cannot stop it from rolling, until a helicopter grabs it and flies away. But wait … the ropes are too tight, and it squishes all over the town! What a mess!! Of course, there isn’t anything else to do but to clean it up and declare a day for TOMATOFEST! It seems like the big “tomato problem” is solved until . . . the next time it rains and the problem starts all over again. This clever rhyming picture book reminds me very much of Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola and would be a very fun read-aloud.

Posted by: Mary

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Special! An Interview with Terry Border

Terry Border
We’re so excited to bring you a short interview with Terry Border, the author and illustrator of the book Peanut Butter and Cupcake, and creator of myriad fabulous artworks.

Do you have any favorite scenes that you created for the book?

It was fun making the unicycle. A challenge too. I have to say that I really like the tree I made for French Fries to sit underneath though.

What advice would you give young writers?

I consider myself more a visual artist than I writer. I’m still struggling with trying to put words together. If I had to give advice though, it would be to write about what really interests you.

Do you have any subjects that you’re dying to write about, but haven’t yet?

I’m sure I will, but I don’t know what they are yet!

What is your favorite word?

For some reason, from the time I was a little kid “parasol” was a word that gave me a magic feeling in my brain. I have NO idea why, and I find that very weird.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by other people doing what they love. Good music also inspires me quite a bit. Other people’s artwork is awesome to look at.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you as a child?

I always remember my first day of kindergarten. I loved kindergarten soooo much. Snacks and a naptime, how can you not love that?

Who is your favorite author or book (children’s or adult)?

Mark Twain was a genius. He wrote with such ease, and yet every page has a line that other writers can only dream of writing.

What authors or artists influenced you when you were first starting out?

I’ve always been a fan of Alexander Calder, and his mobiles and wire sculpture. If you look up him playing with his circus on Youtube, you can see his genius and maybe where I was influenced.

What are your hobbies when you’re not making art?

I like watching movies with my family. I’m a big Marx Brothers and WC Fields fan.

Can you give us any hints about any new books for children that you might have coming out soon?

Next year I have a children’s book coming out about a cupcake planning her own birthday party. I think there are a lot of laughs in it.

Thanks so much to Terry Border for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to see next year’s book about the cupcake! In the meantime, check out this video of Alexander Calder’s Circus!

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A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

Long Way From ChicagoWe are excited to invite all children and their caregivers in Park Ridge to read A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck during the month of October as part of our community-wide reading event, Park Ridge Reads. Set in a rural Illinois town in the late 1920’s and 1930’s, this books features vignettes that recount two children’s annual summer visit to their larger than life Grandmother’s home.

Joey and Mary Alice are reluctant to leave their home in “Al Capone’s” Chicago at first, but by their third summer they have concluded that Grandma is not a good influence and their reluctance to visit wanes. Of course, they keep dragging their heels so as not to let their parents in their secret enjoyment of Grandma Dowdel.

The book is told from Joey’s perspective, as an adult “older than Grandma” looking back on his and Mary Alice’s summers visiting Grandma. The book reads like a series of tall tales; as one might expect from a man looking back and sharing his family’s legends. Grandma’s disdain for her small town’s gossip, prohibition and the law in general create laugh-out-loud scenarios each summer for Joey and Mary Alice as Grandma pulls pranks, creates schemes to catch local hooligans and discreetly wreaks havoc in her hometown with her grandkids in tow.

The author, Richard Peck is from Decatur, Illinois and the fictional and unnamed small town in this story is very much based on Peck’s remembering of Decatur as a young man. In fact, many of Richard Peck’s books are set in Illinois, including two companion titles to A Long Way from Chicago that feature more escapades with Grandma Dowdel.

We hope you will join the community in reading A Long Way from Chicago, start a conversation with your neighbors and classmates about the book and join us at the Library for a culminating event on Sunday, October 26. For more information on Park Ridge Reads for Kids, visit our website.

Adults, you can also be a part of the adult Park Ridge Reads by reading Michael Hainey’s After Visiting Friends and participating in a variety of events including book discussions and a culminating event at the Pickwick Theater on October 27. For more information on After Visiting Friends and Park Ridge Reads events for adults, visit our website.

Posted by: Kelly

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He Laughed With His Other Mouths by M.T. Anderson

He Laughed With His Other MouthsM. T. Anderson has a talent few other authors can boast: he can suck in a reader like nothing else. Hilarious YA novel about competing burger chains? Yep. Picture book biography of Handel? Check. Middle grade fantasy about (among other things) mechanical goblins? No problem. Historical fiction written in next-to-perfect 18th century diction? Of course! An increasingly long series of books written as a pastiche of historical series books, with perfect understanding of the series tropes, characters that appeal to modern readers, and extremely affecting (and hilarious) stories? Why do you even ask?

He Laughed with His Other Mouths is the latest in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. This one focuses on my favorite of the three main characters — Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut! In the 1930s and 40s, Jasper starred in his own series of sci-fi adventure novels (and movies, and t.v. serials and advertisements, etc), but now he lives in Pelt with his single mother (Jasper was created by a highly concentrated beam of information projected from the region of the Horsehead Nebula), and tries, with the help of his friends Lily and Katie, to fit in the modern world.

After a disastrous science fair project (it didn’t even try to take over the world! AND people laughed at him!), Jasper feels so low that he decides, over the objections of his mother, to transport himself to the Horsehead Nebula to see just who it was that originally sent that concentrated beam of information. Was it his . . . father? Or was it Something Else? This rash decision will have drastic consequences not just for Jasper, not just for his mother, Lily, and Katie, but FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!

CAN YOU STAND to find out what Jasper discovers in the Horsehead Nebula?!
THRILL to outer-space hijinks!
SHIVER at the desperate danger!
DON’T WAIT to read this fabulous book, filled with, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear: “Even more death rays! No, really! Way, way too many death rays”!

Posted by: Sarah

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