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Posts from February 2013

Ten Recent Favorite Picture Books from Baby Bookworm (Almost 3)

Here are ten titles that Baby Bookworm (who is nearly 3) has been asking for repeatedly of late. 

Jim Averbeck: In a Blue RoomJim Averbeck: In a Blue Room. Harcourt. This lovely bedtime book was a baby gift from Becky Levine. We've read it off and on since then, but it's recently been in high demand. Last night, Baby Bookworm took this one to sleep with her. 

Jon Stone: The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)Jon Stone: The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book). Random House. Baby Bookworm has only recently started reading this one as a book, but has enjoyed the app (last year's Cybils winner) for quite some time. When she reads the book now, she likes to mimic the gestures that she's used to making with the app. 

Esther Wilkin: Baby Listens (Little Golden Book)Esther Wilkin: Baby Listens (Little Golden Book). Random House. This is a reissued Little Golden Book that arrived on our doorstep recently. Each page features sound effects for something in a baby's world (a ticking clock, etc.). While I find it a bit dated ("snap goes Mommy's pocketbook"), Baby Bookworm is endlessly fascinated by babies, and frequently takes this one to bed with her, too. 

Cathleen Daly: Prudence Wants a PetCathleen Daly: Prudence Wants a Pet. Roaring Brook Press. This is a book that I reviewed a couple of years ago, and that Baby Bookworm ran across recently. I don't think that she completely understands it (a girl is so desperate for a pet that she takes on all sorts of random objects, like a branch and a spare tire, as "pets"), but she finds it funny anyway. She especially likes the scene in which Prudence treats her baby brother like a pet, and feeds him grass. 

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman: At the BoardwalkKelly Ramsdell Fineman: At the Boardwalk. Tiger Tales Press. This is a book that I reviewed more recently, and that went immediately into our rotation. It's about everything that takes place on a boardwalk across a day, in rhythmic poetry. Baby Bookworm especially loves a scene in which kids play in puddles in the rain. We have actually misplaced this book of late, and she's been wandering around the house saying "Boardwalk book, where are you?". We'll have to get another copy if it doesn't turn up soon. 

Stephen Savage: Where's Walrus?Stephen Savage: Where's Walrus?. Scholastic. Where's Walrus was a book that I enjoyed during my reading as a Round 1 judge in Fiction Picture Books for the Cybils last year. It didn't make the shortlist, but I stuck it on my Amazon wish list. I purchased it for Baby Bookworm for International Book Giving Day, and, as I expected, it was an immediate hit. She likes hunting for the walrus on every page, though some of the humor is over her head right now. 

Charise Mericle Harper: Pink Me UpCharise Mericle Harper: Pink Me Up. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Pink Me Up is a book that I reviewed right before Baby Bookworm was born, and kept for a time when she would appreciate it. This book, about a girl who "pinks up" Daddy when Mommy is too sick for the Pink Girls Pinknic, has been a favorite for months. Some days, BB asks to be "pinked up" when she gets dressed. Sometimes she requests "purple me up today", which I think shows good understanding of language. 

Jon Klassen: This Is Not My HatJon Klassen: This Is Not My Hat. Candlewick. This recent Caldecott-winning book and the earlier I Want My Hat Back have both been favorites of Baby Bookworm from the first reading. I think that the minimalist text appeals to her. She seems to mostly get the humor, but she has a more optimistic take than I do regarding the fate of the small fish, and the rabbit. Both were recent review books (This Is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back).

Robin Farley: Mia: The Easter Egg ChaseRobin Farley: Mia: The Easter Egg Chase. HarperFestival. Three books in this series have arrived from HarperCollins in the past few months, and I really must review this one. While not exactly my cup of tea, these books (about Mia and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cat, as they celebrate various holidays) captivate Baby Bookworm. A page of stickers included at the end of the book helps a lot in this. There is also a series of Easy Readers about Mia, which I'm sure we'll be checking out soon. 

Ann Bonwill: Bug and Bear: A Story of True FriendshipAnn Bonwill: Bug and Bear: A Story of True Friendship. Amazon Children's Publishing. This is a book that I received as a potential review copy from Marshall Cavendish several years ago. I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but it's become a favorite of both Baby Bookworm and myself after repeated reads over the past few months. In the story, Bear wants to nap, and keeps telling pesky friend Bug to go away. She says "hmmph" a lot. So now whenever anyone else says "hmmph", we say "like Bear." Don't you love when books become part of your common vocabulary?

Are posts like this of interest? Should I do more? While some books stay favorites for months, others pop in and out fairly quickly, so there is plenty of variety.

What are your children's favorites these days? 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-February

JkrROUNDUPWelcome to the latest children's literacy and reading news roundup, brought to you by Carol Rasco from RIF and Quietly, Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub and The Family Bookshelf, and me, right here at Jen Robinson's Book Page. There's been a lot ongoing and is a lot upcoming in the world of children's literature and literacy. Here are some highlights.

Literacy and Reading-Related Events

Cybils2012The 2012 Cybils Winners were announced this week, of course. This is always a big event for children's book bloggers, and for the authors, teachers, and libraries who rely on their recommendations, but we've all written and tweeted and Facebooked about it extensively already. 

BookGivingDayInternational Book Giving Day was also this week. I participated by buying two books for my daughter from our wish list, and by sending two copies of The Pigeon Wants a Puppy to an elementary school classroom in a high poverty area of Lowell, MA (through a beta of a nonprofit that I'll tell you about later). I'm pretty sure that the latter will have considerably more impact than the former. 

ReadAcrossThe NEA's Read Across America Day is coming on March 1st. Read Across America Day is "an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. NEA’s Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year."

WradMarch 6th, on the other hand, is World Read Aloud Day, sponsored by LitWorld. "World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology." On the Read Aloud Day blog, staff members have been sharing favorite read-aloud stories. 

ShareAStoryLogo-colorThe fifth annual Share A Story - Shape a Future literacy-themed blog event is scheduled for March 4th - 8th. Share A Story is "a blog-to-blog experience so we can build a community of readers, one person at a time."
This year's theme is Literacy the First Five Years. Organizer Terry Doherty is looking for hosts and guest bloggers. Details are here

Drop Everything and Read Day, celebrated in honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday, is coming up April 12th. But we'll tell you more about that next month.  

Zoe Toft just announced the Second Annual Edible Book Festival at Playing by the Book. Bruce Ingman is this year's festival patron. The idea is to create an edible version of a book, and submit a photo of said book to Zoe by March 20th. Sounds like fun! I look forward to seeing the photos. 

And to close this events section, two tidbits to brighten the day of any children's literature fan, both via @PWKidsBookshelf:

Literacy and Reading Programs and Research

Here's a neat announcement from Publisher's Weekly: "First Book, which provides new books to children in need, has announced the launch of its OMG (Offering More Great) Books initiative. The nonprofit will spend $500,000 on books featuring minorities, characters of color, and others whose experiences will resonate with the children the organization serves."

The African Literacy Project delivered it's one millionth book this month. According to Alia Wilson in the San Jose Mercury News, "United by a passion for books and reading, volunteers across the nation have made it possible for the African Library Project to deliver its one millionth book this month. Founded by a Portola Valley woman in 2005, the nonprofit group was created to increase literacy in a country whose population has the highest percentage of illiteracy in the world."

Speaking of Libraries, author Terry Deary made a doozy of a statement to his local council in Sunderland, England. As reported by Alison Flood in The Guardian, Deary declares libraries "no longer relevant", and that "People have to make the choice to buy books". His position seems to be that libraries hurt authors, publishers, and bookstores, by giving people the expectation that books should be free, even as these same people willingly pay for other forms of entertainment, such as movies. It seems to me that he needs to take a longer term view. As a child, I lived in my local library, reading hundreds and hundreds of books to which I wouldn't have had access otherwise. Now, as an adult, I love books. And because I love books (wait for it) ... I BUY books. Practically every day. But I'll leave you to read the Guardian article, and form your own rebuttals. (Via Susan Stephenson, a devout proponent of libraries). 

Gary Schmidt's OKAY FOR NOW (one of my absolute favorites, just released in paperback) is the NPR Back Seat Book Club selection for late Feburary. Readers are asked to submit questions for Schmidt on the NPR website

Suggestions for Growing Bookworms

I found (via NCLE SmartBrief) a post by Elena Aquilar at Edutopia on Ten Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Students. Though the list is focused on teachers, there are also suggestions for hour administrators and parents can help. For example, Aguilar suggests taking students on field trips to "your local library, a university library or a bookstore", and that "parents can organize and administrators can support or encourage". There are additional tips from teachers in the comments. 

On Squeetus this week, Shannon Hale shared a guest post by "first grade teacher, literacy specialist, and all around fab lady Kirsten Wilcox" on strategies for parents to help beginning and struggling readers. There are some good ideas, and some additional tips from readers in the comments. 

This is an article from November, but I just discovered it via tweet from @ReadAloudDad. Teri Harman shares tips for reading aloud to children with special needs, such as autism, for (a Utah television station). The tips are brief but practical. Harman also includes some suggested read-aloud titles. 

At Growing Book by Book, Jodie shares thoughts on how music and literacy can complement one another. Like this: "Music is a great way to build literacy skills.  Rhyming, syllable recognition, phoneme substitution, word recognition, listening, fluency, and intonation are just a few areas that can be practiced through music."  She includes resources and book / song recommendations. 

Trevor Cairney has had two exceptionally useful posts at Literacy, famililes, and learning this month:

  1. Why Older Readers Should Read Picture Books. This is a revised version of a post that Trevor wrote in 2010 and highlights what he sees as "four myths about picture books." Like this: "Myth 1 - 'Picture books are easier than chapter books'. While some are simple, they can have very complex vocabulary and syntax." But do read the whole thing. Personally, I would be devastated if my daughter stopped reading picture books at the age of four.   
  2. Developing Comprehension in the Preschool Years. Trevor recaps four phases (defined by Caitlin McMunn Dooley) in the emerging comprehension of 2-5 year olds, and alos provides 10 simple tips that parents can use "to help comprehension emerge." As parent to an almost-three-year-old, I found this very useful stuff. 

And that's all we have for you today. But Carol will be back towards March 1st with the end of Feburary roundup. And we'll continue to share literacy news as we find it @JensBookPage, @ReadingTub, and @CHRasco. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy. 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 15

Here are some highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter @JensBookPage this week. Topics included in the upcoming Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup (including a host of #Cybils retweets) are not included here, making this a relatively short recap.


MsMac @JoneMac53 interviews the Kidlitosphere's own @gregpincus on reading, writing, and The Late Bird

RT @playbythebook: Pls share via comments or linky your tips for children's books about bullying: … < this month's themed #kidlit carnival


2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers via @tashrow #kidlit #yalit

Entertaining: Conspiracy Theories About Classic Literary Characters – Flavorwire via @FuseEight

According to a new survey, Roald Dahl is now more popular with adults than with children via @PWKidsBookshelf

RT @CBCBook: A snowy weekend in NYC made us think of Ezra Jack Keats! More at our @Pinterest boards. @penguinkids


RT @ALSCBlog: Via @sljournal: Storytimes specifically for African-American children #storytime

This is neat. Library displays: Blind date with a book. via @bkshelvesofdoom


RT @cbcbook: Grace Lin is designing the bookmark for Children's Book Week 2013. Look at her sketch! @pacylin @lbkids

RT @readingrockets: Happy birthday Judy Blume! Thank you for your gift to young readers everywhere. Our interview:

In the Classroom: A Few Classroom Teaching Suggestions from an Introverted Teacher | @medinger

Wendie's Wanderings: Why people want to read picture books over and over again (at Julie Hedlund's blog)

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Happy Cybils Day!

Cybils2012Yes, it's Valentine's Day. But Valentine's Day is kind of commercialized, don't you think? A holiday that is not at all commercialized (though you are certainly welcome to use it to buy books) is Cybils Announcement Day, today, February 14th. 

Today, the hard-working Cybils category organizers, together with Anne Levy, Cybils Overlord, and Sarah Stevenson, Cybils Blog Editor (and me, Literacy Evangelist for the Cybils), are pleased to announce the winners in 10 fabulous categories of children's and young adult literature (including some categories with multiple selections by age range).

1373 eligible books were nominated. All but four of these books (99.7%) were read by at least one panelist. 98.6% of the books were read by at least two panelists. 73 Round 1 judges undertook this massive quantity of reading, and whittled the 1373 books down to 78 short list titles across the 11 categories, announced on New Year's Day. Since then, 55 Round 2 judges (including myself) have spent time assessing and discussing the shortlist titles, to come up with the winners in each category. All 128 of these panelists are bloggers, people who read widely, think critically about books, and have expertise in their particular categories.

The goal of the Cybils organization is that these winners are all well-written and kid-friendly. This doesn't necessarily mean that the winners have to be popular and well-known. Rather, this means that the various committees, by whatever criterion they applied to their particular category, believed that kids would love these books. 

When I think of Cybils winners in general, I think of books that fly off the shelves of libraries, and that librarians are happy to put into their hands (because they know quality when they see it). I think of books that kids ask their parents to read to them again and again, and that the parents are happy to read (because they are so well-written). I think of books that kids want to tell their friends about, and about which teachers and bloggers are also happy to spread the word. These are the cream of the crop - the Cybils winners. What better Valentine's Day gift could a children's literature fan ask for? 

Click through to the Cybils blog for the complete list. I'll be back later with some comments about my specific category. 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel: Jeff Kinney

Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel
Author: Jeff Kinney
Pages: 224
Age Range: 8 and up 

The seventh Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, The Third Wheel, made me laugh aloud several times. Like the other books in the series, The Third Wheel doesn't follow a particularly linear plotline. The "third wheel" aspect of the book (involving a Valentine's Day Dance, a girl, and Greg's best friend) only directly comes into play quite late in the book. But it doesn't matter. Time spent peeking into Greg Heffley's diary is always entertaining. Some highlights that struck me from this installment included:

  • Greg's memories from back before he was born (already capable of being embarrassed by his mother).
  • The fact that Greg spent the first few months of his life sleeping in a dresser drawer ("which I'm pretty sure isn't even legal"). 
  • The location that baby Greg found to hide the batteries for the TV remote ("when you're a baby, you can't really get around a lot, so there was only one place I could hide the batteries.")
  • When Greg drove his father so crazy during Bring Your Child to Work Day that he was sent off to sit somewhere else, and ended up forgotten and left at work.
  • A "pantsing" epidemic among the boys at the middle school. 
  • A bizarre "bring your own toilet paper" fad at the middle school.

I think the reason that these books work so well is that although the incidents are over-the-top, there's an underpinning of universal behavior that comes through. The Wimpy Kid books will always be among my favorites, because I've known kids who were turned on to reading for the first time by Greg's exploits. I also think that there's a fair amount of humor in these books for adults, making these fun read-together books (or read in parallel, anyway) for the whole family.

The sketch-filled diary format has become fairly widespread in children's books, of course, but Jeff Kinney launched the craze, and remains a master at it. I found Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel to be a worthy installment of the series, a laugh-out-loud read for kids and adults. Recommended! (And no particular need to read the books in order, I don't think). 

Publisher: Amulet Books (@AbramsKids)
Publication Date: November 13,2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

Valentine's Day is a Day for Children's Book Lovers

February 14th has a long history as a day for celebrating love and chocolate. More recently, however, Valentine's Day has become a day for celebrating books and literacy.

Cybils2012Since 2006, the Cybils Award winners have been announced on February 14th. This Thursday, winners will be announced in the following 11 categories. Click through each link to see the shortlists, five to seven category-specific titles each guaranteed to be both well-written and kid-friendly. 

Book Apps

Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade)

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Young Adult)

Fiction Picture Books

Graphic Novels

Middle Grade Fiction

Non-Fiction: Middle Grade & Young Adult

Non-Fiction Picture Books


Young Adult Fiction

As a Round 2 judge for Fiction Picture Books, all I can say publicly now is that I hope readers will be happy with our selection. 

International-book-giving-day-poster-by-priya-kuriyanThursday is also International Book Giving Day. As explained by Amy Broadmoore in a post on the Nerdy Book Club website this week:

"International Book Giving Day is a day dedicated to increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. (It’s kind of perfect that International Book Giving Day and the Cybils announcements are the same day!) We are inviting people around the world to celebrate by

  1. giving a book to a friend or family member,
  2. leaving a good book in a waiting room for children to read, or
  3. donating a book to local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes books to children in need.

To learn more about International Book Giving Day, see International Book Giving Day’s website!"

In the same post, Amy suggests that Cybils panelists celebrate International Book Giving Day by donating their Cybils review copies, listing "5 Better Homes for Your Cybils Books Than in Your Closet". These tips really apply to anyone who accrues stacks of children's books, by whatever means. See also this guest post at All Done Monkey about sharing the joy of reading, with a wide range of both local and global suggestions for book donation on International Book Giving Day. 

LibraryloversjfFinally, Susan Stephenson at The Book Chook proclaims that February 14th is Library Lovers Day (celebrated in 2012, and continued this year by Susan). She says: "Library Lovers Day - what a wonderful day to show our local and school librarians some love! Let's thank them for what they do, be specific and tell them how much libraries and librarians have meant in our lives." I say, what better way to show your appreciation for your local or school library than by donating some new or gently read children's books?

The Cybils Awards, International Book Giving Day, and Library Lovers day. No matter how you look at it, February 14th is a day for celebrating the love of books. Books will last a lot longer than flowers or chocolates, too (both directly and indirectly). How will you mark the occasion?

Cecil: The Pet Glacier: Matthea Harvey & Giselle Potter

Book: Cecil: The Pet Glacier
Author: Matthea Harvey
Illustrator: Giselle Potter
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5 and up

As one might expect from the title, Cecil: The Pet Glacier is a rather quirky picture book. The choice of Giselle Potter as illustrator augments this quirkiness perfectly. As the book opens, we learn that "Ruby Small (is) a normal little girl." She carries around three identical dolls each named Jennifer. Ruby's parents, alas, are not at all normal. They celebrate their oddness, even as Ruby tries to be as ordinary as she can. When a small glacier starts following Ruby around on a visit to Norway, Ruby resists, but her parents encourage this hopeful sign of Ruby succumbing to the family weirdness.

Cecil: The Pet Glacier is definitely more suited to elementary school kids than to preschoolers. The text is quite dense, and relatively advanced in terms of vocabulary. Like this:

"That first morning at the guesthouse in Horfensnufen, breakfast was four tiny fish on a piece of toast, or, in her parents' case, a piece of toast on four tiny fish -- they loved eating food upside down.

Afterward, the Smalls walked to the tourist office. "Welcome, Smalls," a blue-haired man named Sven said severely. "Today, glacier.""

I like "Sven said severely." And I like that the Smalls ride pink snowmobiles to the glacier, for some reason. The scenes in which the glacier (who Sven orders them to call Cecil) starts following Ruby around are priceless. There's quite a bit of relatively subtle humor to Cecil: The Pet Glacier

The illustrations are recognizably Giselle Potter's (see my review of her Wynken, Blynken, and Nod). Potter's tendency to draw children with adult-looking faces works perfectly here, given that Ruby is basically a mini-adult anyway (as are the three Jennifer dolls, which look somewhat creepily like Ruby). My favorite illustration shows the family on the plane. Ruby is buckled in with the three Jennifers, holding the family passports and looking disapproving while her parents play a tiny game on ping pong on their tray tables (Mama wearing a tiara). I'm not personally wild about Potter's somewhat gloomy illustration style, but I do think that she was a good choice for this particular book. 

Cecil: The Pet Glacier is not going to be for everyone. But personally, I like the unconventional storyline (I mean, a glacier for a pet?), and the way that Harvey and Potter play it straight up. I like the overall message of the book, which is something on the order of "embrace the weird". I can actually think of a number of adult friends who might appreciate this one as a gift. I am going to hold on to the book for when Baby Bookworm is older, and see how she likes it. Cecil: The Pet Glacier is a 2012 Cybils nominee in Fiction Picture Books

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 8

Here are some highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Literacy and Growing Bookworms

I so agree: Why Older Readers Should Read Picture Books by@TrevorHCairney #kidlit #literacy

8 Ways to Start the Read Aloud Train (... after kids pull the emergency brake) from @ReadAloudDad #literacy

RT @bookgivingday: What book will you give to a child for Book Giving Day? @JensBookPage @RIFWEB@CHRasco @readingtub

Getting My Reluctant Reader to Read, Plan B @StorySnoops w/ nice list of engaging audiobooks for boys

First Book Launches OMG (Offering More Great) Books Initiative, to spend $500k on books featuring minorities #litrdup

Beginning to Learn Your ABCs: Tips for promoting ABC exploration with toddlers from Growing Book by Book #literacy

The hidden benefits of reading aloud, even to older kids, interview w/ Jim Trelease via Reshama/Stacking Books #litrdup

Creative Literacy Ideas: #Literacy Lalapalooza at Family Bookshelf @readingtub

Very nice post on What makes a great read-aloud Picture Book by Kathleen Pelley via @darshanakhiani

Book Lists and Themes

Stacked is doing genre challenge for Feb, focusing on YA Science Fiction #yalit #sff @catagator

Presenting Lenore: Dystopian February (2013) Kick-Off @lenoreva #yalit

A fine list w/ #cybils overlap! ALSC 2013 Notable Children’s Books–Younger Readers via @tashrow #kidlit

Check out Early Chapter Books {Series About Boys} from @momandkiddo #kidlit

10 Great YA Novels with Strong Female Characters | Suite101 by Cate Allan #yalit #kidlit

Great roundup of Robot Books by age range at ESSL library Nuts n' Bolts: Robot Books

2013 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults from YALSA via @tashrow at Waking Brain Cells #yalit

a is for musk ox + more, nice list of alphabet books that tell a story from @indyplkids #kidlit


Happy 6 year blogiversary to @charlotteslib!

This is pretty funny: Children’s Literature: The Movie (which actorsshould play authors) @100scopenotes #kidlit

How did I miss this? RT @tashrow PW Talks with @LaurelSnyder Kid’s Books Are Not Just for Kids

It's February. The Brown Bookshelf has started their 28 Days Later series with Malaika Rose Stanley « #kidlit


Blog tempest over teacher trying to force introverts to speak up on class. @lizb has the roundup:

I found this both amusing and accurate: Dr. Carmella's definitive guide to understanding the introverted


RT @tashrow Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster Launch Bookish – GalleyCat

Change is hard. Monopoly Fans Have Spoken: Out Goes The Iron And In Comes The New Cat Token via @bkshelvesofdoom

Delightful: Top Ten (or so) Quotes About #Reading by Brian Wilhorn @NerdyBookClub

RT @tashrow Amelia Bedelia Turns 50 With a New Look and Over 35 Million Books Sold – ABC News #kidlit

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Code Name Verity: Elizabeth Wein

Book: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Pages: 352
Age Range: 14 and up

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a book that I frankly didn't want to read, based on what I'd heard about the premise. The book begins as a confession that a young woman is writing for the Nazis who are holding her as a prisoner. The young woman reveals (though not in intolerable detail) some of the ways in which her captors have tortured her to make her capitulate. See, I would prefer NOT to read about anyone being tortured, especially a teenage girl. But I kept reading simply everywhere how much people whose judgement I trusted loved Code Name Verity. And I finally gave it a look.

As I expected, I didn't enjoy the first part of the book very much. But here's the thing. Elizabeth Wein won me over. But the end of the book, with a tear in my eye, I had to concede that Code Name Verity is brilliant, and moving, and important. It's the kind of book in which you get to the end, and have a hard time believing that the characters aren't real. You want to go look them up in the history books, and find out what happened next. It's difficult to let them go. 

Most any quote that I could give you would be a spoiler. And Code Name Verity is a book that you should read with as open a mind as possible. But here's one to give you a feel for Wein's writing:

"Queenie was devoted to careless name-dropping, scattering the details of her privileged upbringing without the faintest hint of modesty or embarrassment (though, after a while Maddie began to realize she only did it with people she liked or people she detested--those who didn't mind and those she didn't care about--anyone in between, or who might have been offended, she was more cautious with)." (Page 69)

Code Name Verity is meticulously researched, and provides windows into life in both England and France during World War II. Wein's characterization is strong and her prose is distinctive (if sometimes difficult to face). Her plotting is sheer genius. While not for the faint of heart (I am going with 14 and up as an age classification for this one), Code Name Verity is a book with a lot to offer to older teen and adult readers, girls and boys. (Yes, the two primary protagonists are girls. But Code Name Verity is full of action and espionage, flying planes and setting off bombs. It is a book for anyone to enjoy.) Highly recommended, and deserving of every accolade. 

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

Interview About My Reading with Baby Bookworm by Becky Levine

Becky Levine, who I have met in person, really became my friend through our interactions on our blogs and Facebook. She has always been particularly supportive of my efforts to raise my daughter to love books. When Baby Bookworm was born (nearly 3 years ago), Becky gave us Caps for Sale and In A Blue Room for Baby Bookworm's library. We adore them both.

Becky is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a speaker at writing clubs, conferences, and critique groups. She is the author of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions (Writer’s Digest, 2010). She blogs about reading, writing, and life in general at

Becky recently interviewed me about my reading with Baby Bookworm. She asked insightful questions like this:

"I know from your Facebook posts that BB definitely spends time on her own with books. Is there a difference between the books you and she read together and the ones she reads to herself? Do you think her self-reading times are mostly when you’re not available, or do you see her choosing times to read by herself and times she wants you to share a book with her?"

You can read the interview here to see my response. I do hope that you'll take a few minutes to check it out.  

Open This Little Book: Jesse Klausmeier & Suzy Lee

Book: Open This Little Book
Author: Jesse Klausmeier
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3 and up 

Open This Little Book is a picture book for book lovers of all ages. Written by Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by Suzy Lee (The Zoo and Wave), Open This Little Book is constructed as much as it is written and illustrated. But it exudes kid-friendliness from every page. Inside the regular front and back cover the reader finds a smaller book made of what looks like purple construction paper. Inside of that is a smaller book, titled "Little Red Book", and inside of that, a smaller book still. And so on. The books are linked. Each one introduces the next. Like this:

"Open this...

Little Red Book

and read about Ladybug,
who opens a ...

Little Green Book 

and reads about Frog, 
who opens a ...

Little Orange Book"

and so on, all the way in, then out again (with each book being closed). There are no full-size pages except for the end pages. All of the books inside have different color borders, and a homemade, construction-paper type appearance. Lee's illustrations within each book echo that book's color theme, using a mix of watercolor and pen and ink. The interior books have an old-fashioned feel, as though they are books that one found hidden away in a corner at one's grandmother's house, perhaps hand-made fifty years ago. I especially love the picture on the very last page, showing a bunch of animals sitting around and in a bookshelf/tree, reading, reading, reading. I'd like to see that picture on a calendar or a poster. 

Adding further to the kid-friendliness of Open This Little Book, the very smallest book is owned by Giant, whose fingers are too large to actually open the book (because "her hands are way too big"), so her friends open and read Little Rainbow Book.

I think that Open This Little Book will inspire kids to want to write their own books. I am going to be a bit cautious in letting my almost three-year-old read this book, because I think that the small inner pages could tear. But I expect Baby Bookworm to greet this book with delight. There's not much substance to the story itself. But there is tremendous appeal to the book anyway. Open This Little Book provides a positive, interactive experience for young readers, in a memorable format. It's a celebration of books. Definitely recommended for home use - I'm not sure how well it will stand up to repeat library readings (and it's probably better suited to one-on-one than group readings), but it's definitely worth a look. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: End of January

JkrROUNDUPThe end of January Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup, brought to you by Carol Rasco, Terry Doherty, and me, is now available at Carol's blog, Quietly. I'm sharing a few of the highlights here. 

Lots of events are taking place in children's literature in late January and early February, from last week's ALA Youth Media Awards to:

  • 28_days_later28 Days Later ("a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans") at The Brown Bookshelf throughout February.
  • The announcement of Cybils winners (well-written, kid-friendly titles in 10 delightful categories) on February 14th.
  • BookGivingDayInternational Book Giving Day ("a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books ... (by) encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th").
  • With more events coming up in March... (I'll highlight some of those in the mid-month roundup.)

Also of note from Carol:

  • Regarding the ALA Awards: "In the midst of all the excitement, however, I found myself wishing and wishing with each announcement there would be more minority authors, illustrators, characters in books awarded prizes outside the awards so designated. It is a concern, and clearly I am not the only one by a long shot concerned. Read Mitali’s Fire Escape and that of Fuse #8 (scroll down to Whitey Whitey Whiteville) on the same issue."
  • On needing passion and curiosity, not just IQ: "An article I’ve reviewing a great deal recently was written by Thomas FriedmanIt’s P.Q. and C.Q. As Much As I.Q.. In noting the world is now not simply more connected but instead “hyper-connected” Friedman states “How to adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the “right” education than less, that you will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology" -- I enjoyed this article, too. 

And here are a couple of additional tidbits that I ran across in the past few days:

Speaking of Google+, I never found it all that useful until the recent addition of Communities. I'm now a member of the Great Books for Kids community (created by Bethany at No Twiddle Twaddle, now with 300+ members), and have been enjoying the discussion there. I'm dabbling in a couple of other communities, too, but they aren't as active. You can find me here on Google+.

Booklinky150finalI'm also (not on Google+) enjoying the weekly Children's Bookshelf, where bloggers can share children's book-related links each week (Co-hosted by Bethany with What Do We Do All Day?Smiling Like SunshineThe Picture Book Review,Sprout's BookshelfMy Little BookcaseMouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and  MemeTales). I like that through these new communities, I'm expanding my access to book and literacy ideas from bloggers and parents. 

Check out Terry's post at The Family Bookshelf for some additional links, and do visit the full roundup at Quietly. I'll be back on February 15th with the mid-month roundup, and will be sharing news as I find it @JensBookPage in the meantime. 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.