RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Books

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say

A Smart Girls Guide to Knowing What to Say by Patti Kelley Criswell offers VERY good suggestions for making small talk, introducing yourself, and dealing with a host of difficult situations. This is a great book, geared toward upper-elementary kids and teens, but actually good for all ages – even adults.

The book covers how to talk to adults, how to ask for something you want, friendship troubles, saying no, apologizing, dealing with bullies, clever comebacks, etc. etc. etc. It shows most of the conversations in speech bubbles, a great format for today’s kids. It is so good, I am going to buy it so I’ll have it as a reference for my kids and me. I recommend it for boys, too, even though it says smart GIRL’S… the situations and advice in the book applies to both girls and boys.


The Mischievians

“Strange smells. Disappearing remotes. That itch you just can’t reach. It’s not your fault. It’s the Mischievians.” The Mischievians by William Joyce is a new favorite of mine. Rich with creativity and vocabulary, this encyclopedia of mischief-makers made us laugh so hard at the silliness. We wanted to read it again and again. It’s a wonderful picture book to share early readers. Older kids and adults will love the humor in it too. I absolutely love William Joyce books and look forward to each new one! Some of my other favorites from Moonbot Studios, are The Numberlys and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.


Lowriders in Space

Lowriders in Space is a really imaginative flight-of-fancy in a graphic novel format that children and adults will love. With awesome illustrations by Raúl the Third, the story by Cathy Camper features Lupe Impala, the finest mechanic south of Vacaville. She and her friends El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria (he's a male mosquito so he doesn't bite), have the skills to restore a junker to compete in a contest for the best car around. They need to win so they can use the prize money to open up their own shop. With original characters and illustrations from out of this world, this is the first book in a great new series!

 


It’s Time For Global Reading Challenges

April is the accumulation of school team work for Global Reading Challenges here at Kalamazoo Public Library.

In March, 4th and 5th graders who participated in the school challenges showed off their skills for reading and remembering facts from 10 specifically selected titles. After reading, studying, and determining their team strategy each team met their challenge with a battle of other teams at their school. Each school then had 1 team, the team with the most points, selected as their school’s representative team that advances to the Branch Global Reading Challenge.

Oshtemo Branch Library will host our Branch Global Reading Challenge on Monday April 20, 2015 at 7 pm in the community room. Three schools will be represented:

  • Razzle-Dazzle Readers from Martin Luther King – Westwood Elementary
  • Radical Readers from Prairie Ridge Elementary
  • Candy Lollipops from Heritage Christian Academy

The teams will again battle for the chance to advance to the City-Wide Challenge. There each branch library, including Central will have one team. Teams will battle one last time for the chance to become the 2015 Global Reading Challenge Champion. Last year’s Challenge (2014) was won by the Crazy Cougars from Prairie Ridge Elementary. Can Oshtemo’s team do it again?

As you can imagine each Battle is a bit more intense. Same 10 books but not the same questions – each battle requires the questions to be more challenging, more specific in nature – just plain harder! If you have not participated by being in a challenge, being a coaching, being the parent of a team member or a family member you should think about coming to watch this great program. You will be amazed at the skill these students have for remembering the smallest detail from the 10 books.

Join us for some fast paced competition!

Visit our website for more information


Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Want to hook a young reader on a fantasy series? Try out the Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. 15 books of classic good vs. evil in a land run by owls. Owlet snatching, moon blinking, chaw building, battle claws, trees, weather, flashbacks, ceremonies, maps, sorcery, polar bears, nest maid snakes….it’s all in this series! Fun fast paced chapters that always end on a cliff hanger. Each book leaves you rushing to get the next one. Readers will find many correlations to human social psychology and politics using real owl science. This has been a fun series to read aloud with my tween. The movie is a fun tie in too, check it out!


A Happily-Ever-After Story

In these times, it’s rare to find a story, whether written for kids or adults, that has an unabashedly “...and they lived happily-ever-after” ending to it. That’s not surprising since we live in a cynical period, where to show any interest in a tale soaked through with unrealistic happiness sometimes feels like an unpardonable sin. Well, I fear that I have committed just such a sin by falling in love with Cat & Dog, a picture book written and illustrated by Michael Foreman. And it feels great!

The story is very simple. Homeless mother cat finds a dry place under a highway bridge to curl up with her three kittens. Next morning, she sniffs out a fish delivery van and tells her youngsters that she will be back soon with breakfast. But the van drives off as soon as the cat jumps inside.

While mom is away on her accidental adventure, a scruffy old dog comes sniffing around and ends up befriending the feline brood. Before long they are all asleep in one cozy heap together. Mom returns with stories of the seaside; fish, fresh salt tinged air and of the very nice van driver who finds her in the back and returns her to her kittens.

At the end of the tale, all agree that they should move to the seaside which, thanks to the good graces of the fish van driver, they then do. The van driver also lets them all move into a shed he owns by the harbor, and together they watch the wonderful aquatic world that lays before them at the end of a pier.

This is a touching story with beautiful watercolor illustrations; (the kittens’ facial expressions are especially endearing). It is a heartwarming, gentle tale of new found friends and salvation, that should appeal to young children and all other human beings willing to temporarily suspend reality in the pursuit of joyful feelings.


Hello, I'm Johnny Cash, by G. Neri

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” is how Johnny started every concert.  J. R. Cash grew up poor and hungry and he never forgot his roots.  When he was three years old he sang for the first time during the family move from southern Arkansas to Dyess, Arkansas, to farm 20 acres of New Deal land.  His momma played a beat up ‘ol guitar and he sang gospel songs.  The sounds of the guitar comforted J.R.   When he was five years old he began listening to the battery powered radio his daddy bought him while his older brothers and sisters helped farm cotton.  J. R. remembered and could sing all the songs he heard and pretty soon the neighbors stopped by to hear him belt out a tune with his tiny voice.  Throughout his childhood J. R. kept singing and helping the family.  His older brother Jack was his best friend and they became spiritual brothers, too, when J. R. accepted God.  Throughout his youth he always dreamed of becoming a famous singer:  “he felt the music calling like a voice from the middle of the earth, full of mystery and power, reaching up and grabbing hold of his heart.”  His brother Roy told him to follow his gut.  “Someday, you’re going to be somebody.  The world’s your apple, and you’re going to peel it.” 

I like the simplicity and style of this biography.  The text layout on each large page is three columns.  Every big page has an important theme in bold print with an illustration on the accompanying page, keeping it inviting and realistic for children.

At the end of the book are pages devoted to Historical Events in Johnny’s Lifetime; More About Johnny Cash; and a Discography of some of his recordings and compilations.

 


For Lizzie freedom means learning

 In Lesa Cline-Ransome's book Freedom's School, one day mama told Lizzie and her brother Paul that they “went to sleep ‘slaves’ and woke up free”. Mama said that being free means you have to work harder. “Real freedom means ‘rithmetic and writing.”

Lizzie was eager to learn but it was hard for her and Paul to leave their mama and daddy working so hard in the crop fields. Getting to school was not easy and sometimes they had rocks thrown at them. The first school was burned down. Daddy remarked that “at least they got a little learnin”. Lizzie and mama didn’t answer “Cause they knew that halfway to freedom feels like no freedom”.

Well, Lizzie got her wish. One day mama woke them up and said hurry up and get dressed and we’ll go check on Mizz Howard. They got there to see men working on rebuilding the school and Mizz Howard was ready to start lessons. 


Gordon Parks

Carole Weatherford Boston has written many children’s books; this one, Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, is one of her best.   A teacher told her black students that they would all grow up to be waiters and porters, and Parks did do that work, but then he taught himself photography and the rest of the world opened up to him.  Elegant illustrations and lyrical text help to tell the story of his remarkable life.

 

 

 


The book with no pictures

A children’s book with no pictures, just words? Where’s the fun in that? Well, those words might make you say silly sounds, in strange voices. And you do have to read what’s on the pages, after all….

This deceptively simple, imaginative book is titled (appropriately enough) The book with no pictures, by B.J. Novak. It introduces children to the idea that written words have power, and that words can also provide fun and just plain silliness.