Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Karen Beaumont is the author of several wonderful children’s books. Her books are fun to read aloud. Have you ever spelled a word to someone else as a secret code to keep a child from understanding the discussion?
Karen Beaumont’s most recent book is Where’s My T R U C K? It is about a little boy named Tommy who loses his red truck. He is extremely upset and angry and he goes on a quest to find it, looking under his bed, in dresser drawers, his toy box, his sandbox, even in flower beds and up in trees. Tommy is so distraught he begins to cry and the frantic parents don’t know what to do! Throughout the book, the word T R U C K is spelled out, giving a rhythmic pattern to the text. David Catrow’s illustrations are comical, colorful, and lively.
We have many wonderful children’s books by Karen Beaumont in our collection. Here are a few more of my favorite Karen Beaumont books!
Where’s My T R U C K?
I’ve been a children’s librarian for a lot of years, so am always on the lookout for new children’s titles. One that definitely caught my eye is Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer. One of the most requested topics we get is “princess books” for kids. This book is certainly that, but with a twist. Princess Viola loves to skateboard, karate chop and jump in the moat- not your traditional princess activities. The king and queen send Viola to princess school, with hilarious results, and an ending that is totally satisfying.
I love dogs, and in Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee, two canines from the same litter, Boot and Shoe, do everything together. They eat together, they eat out of the same bowl, they sleep in the same bed. But Shoe is a front porch kind of dog, and Boot camps out on the back porch all day, which is perfect until a pesky squirrel throws their ordered world into disarray. Wonderful, expressive pictures add a lot to the story, and it’s perfect for new readers.
Dog in Charge by K.L. Going has some of the funniest pictures I’ve seen in a quite a while. Illustrator Dan Santat captures dog and cat personalities to a “T”. Dog is given the task of keeping the family cats in line while their family is gone, and the wily felines prove to be a challenge for somewhat clueless Dog. All is well in the end, and peace reigns.
Check out these and other new kids’ titles just for the fun of it, and to keep kids reading!
Princess in Training
As soon as I saw that this 2012 book was from DK (Dorling Kindersley Ltd.) in Great Britain, I knew it would be good. Their publications are always well done, with a fine layout, excellent photographs, and good content on high quality paper. This particular offering did not disappoint. Chronologically covering 4500 years of architectural achievements, it gives photographs, commentary, and a brief biography of the architect, when one can be identified. Beginning with the pyramid at Giza, Egypt, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Colosseum in Rome, author Wilkinson continues down through history, including such edifices as the Alhambra in Spain, the Versailles Palace in France, and the Houses of Parliament in the U.K. There are also some American buildings -- the Chrysler Building in New York City, Monticello in Virginia, and Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright in Pennsylvania. Many of the buildings were familiar to me, but many also were not, such as the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai and Belem Tower in Lisbon, Portugal. Check this out for a great tour around the world.
Great buildings : [the world's architectural masterpieces explored and explained]
For many more years than I would like to admit to, I remember spending innumerable Saturday afternoons enjoying Julia Child’s cooking shows on the local PBS station. First, there was her classic “French Chef” series, then “Julia Child & Company,” followed up by “Julia Child and More Company.” All in all, her television career lasted for over thirty-seven years, and included nine more separate series in addition to the ones already mentioned. Considering the hundreds of episodes that she appeared in, it isn’t all that surprising that in 1996, TV Guide named her to their list of the “Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time.”
Of course, fine food was the centerpiece of all these programs, as it also was in Julia’s personal life. But there was an additional source of great pleasure for her that until recently was not all that well known. Cats!
When Patricia Barey’s and Therese Burson’s book entitled Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in The Company of Cats appeared late last summer, I immediately placed a hold on the title. Being unabashedly cat crazy myself, and admiring Julia Child’s spunky, unpretentious, joie de vivre style, I very much looked forward to reading this slim volume, which is enhanced with many black and white photos of Julia and her felines.
As is told in the book, Julia’s story begins in 1948 as a newly wedded bride of thirty-six, who is madly in love with her husband Paul. They start married life living in Paris, France, a country and city obsessed with food and romance. There, Julia and Paul begin to collect the first of many cats who would grace their lives, several of whom adopted the young couple rather than the other way around. By throwing in their lot with Julia and Paul, these felines ended up winning the cat equivalent of the lottery, going on to live in the lap of luxury with a master chef and hanging out as the perfect kitchen comrades with the couple who truly adored them.
But this book is not only about cats. It also follows Julia as she begins attending the world renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu. Here, she receives a failing grade in her final exam at the hands of her instructor and nemesis Madame Brassart, who states that, “Julia does not have any great natural talent for cooking.” Over time, this has come to be recognized as one of the greatest misjudgments in the history of culinary arts education. In 1961, after her well received book titled The Art of French Cooking hit the stands, Julia went on to become an overnight sensation, and her name is still synonymous with fine cuisine to this day.
In addition to this adult account, released at about the same time was a children’s volume about Child and one particular cat. Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich is a forty-page book about Julia learning to cook in Paris with her devoted feline friend, Minette, at her side. Although she has the best products of fine food preparation within constant reach, truth be told, Minette is not too fond of gourmet meals, often preferring the taste of a freshly killed mouse instead.
So, whether you are a Julia Child admirer, a cat devotee, both or even neither, you are in for a treat with these two volumes. As Julia might have said, “Bon Appétit, happy reader, Bon Appétit!”
It should be noted that had she lived, Julia Child would have celebrated her 100th birthday last August.
Julia's cats : Julia Child's life in the company of cats
While scanning the new books in the rotunda a couple of weeks ago, I came across The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It. Flipping through, I saw detailed diagrams of things I had done with my kids, things my parents did with me, and things I've seen other parents do with their kids. It seemed ridiculous and hilarious how it used four figures to show how to get your child up onto your shoulder. Why a book like this when we all know this stuff? Because we often forget to do it, or we did it with our first child and kind of petered out as others were born and we got older and everything got busier. As I was laughing at the book, I had this realization, which induced a little panic. My two youngest children are now 7 and 9. Was there still time?
Last week, we found ourselves on several occasions, piling the couch cushions and pillows in the middle of the living room floor, scanning through the book, and trying things out. Long live the human cannonball!
The Art of Roughhousing
Piggybacking on Christine's post (2 down from this one), I also just finished a book about living with autism. This is a topic many of us can relate to, as 1 in 88 children are identified with having an autism spectrum disorder (http://www.autismspeaks.org). The book I read is The cat who came back for Christmas by Julia Romp. The book details single mom Julia's extremely difficult time raising her son George, who was eventually diagnosed with autism. He communicated poorly, had many behavior issues, was never affectionate or loving, and rarely showed happiness...until they took in a stray cat when he was 9 years old. George and the cat, Ben, had an instant connection and George quickly came out of his shell, beginning to communicate on a level (both with the cat, and with his mom) that Julia had never thought possible, even showing affection toward Julia that she had longed for since his birth. Then the worst thing possible happened...when Julia attempted to take George on their first real vacation, Ben went missing. As the months dragged on with no sign of Ben, grief-stricken George regressed, and Julia searched desperately, knowing the only way to get her son "back" was to find their cat. I won't give away anything else (although the title doesn't leave much to the imagination), but I must say this is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time...could not put it down.
Cat who came back for Christmas
On the day their divorce is to be finalized, Kelly returns to the small boutique hotel in New Orleans where she and her husband, Mike, fell in love and visited frequently.
The story follows their lives as it chronicles the complexities of their twenty year relationship and as Kelly faces a major decision and the impact of it for her daughter.
A Small Hotel is a passionate love story showing the consequences of miscommunication and insecurity written by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler.
Good writing, a good story that can be read and appreciated on various levels.
A Small Hotel
I recently read two books about people living with autism. I found both of them to be moving and insightful.
Now I See the Moon: a mother, a son, a miracle - When Elaine Hall’s adopted son, Neal, was diagnosed with autism, she had a variety of negative emotional responses to the news. Over time, Hall learned not only to accept her son’s condition, but to see and appreciate the very special gifts that her son and other autistic children offer. Hall, who already had experience training child actors, developed a groundbreaking program to engage autistic children in drama and other performing arts.
The Journal of Best Practices David Finch describes, with humor and insight, his own journey of discovering that he has Asperger syndrome. He developed a very systematic process for understanding his condition and improving his relationship with his wife and his children.
The Journal of Best Practices: a memoir of marriage, Asperger syndrome, and one man's quest to be a better husband
Yesterday, the National Book Award winners were announced. Here is a list of the Fiction and Nonfiction books that were nominated including the winners.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Winner)
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (Winner)
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro
The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
House of Stone: A Memoir Of Home, Family, And A Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
It's that time of year and our library has a bunch a good books on hunting, whether you are a beginner or just want to learn about the beautiful Whitetail Deer. (did you know they shed and re-grow their antlers every year? that they are the fastest growing bone in the world? that they chew their cud?)
The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food is the most well written. Besides being informative and practical, the author actually makes an ethical argument for the benefits of harvesting meat locally, natural, organic, non-wasteful, and in the most humane way possible. He calls himself a "locavore" and says it the closest thing to being a vegetarian.
Stop by the downtown Central library and check out our other books on deer and hunting. They are arranged by subject, so they're all in the same area.
The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food