MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Upcoming Events for Children's Librarians
ACL’s Meeting Time Changed: ACL’s monthly meetings, held the second Thursday each month at the Berkeley Main Library, will now begin at 9:30am instead of 9:00am. Please note this does not include special events like the ACL Institute.
Jenny Makofsky Dies: ACL member and highly respected storyteller Jenny Makofsky died in February from injuries sustained in a car accident. She was working on her MLIS at San Jose State and performing a series of storytelling programs in the Oakland Public Library branches at the time of her death. Makofsky was a longtime member of the Bay Area Storytelling Festival and was stage manager at the festival. This year’s festival will be dedicated to her memory.
Northern Calif. Book Award Nominees: The Northern California Book Awards will be given on March 24 by the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association at the San Francisco Public Library. The nominees for Children’s Literature are: The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau, Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Just A Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales, The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann, and Vampire High by Douglas Rees.
Alan Bern Has New Poetry Book: Alan Bern, librarian at Berkeley Public and former ACL member, has published No, No the Saddest Light, a book of poetry. Congratulations!
Just in time for Easter: Little Golden Books has re-released Margaret Wise Brown’s The Golden Egg Book, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard ($8.95, ISBN 0-375-82717-X). The story of the bunny who finds a blue egg, tries to open it, and eventually befriends the duckling who emerges, has great pacing and repetition. The illustrations don’t look “old-fashioned” as much as they look retro, so it may be a way to buy replacement copies.
Bay Area Storytelling Festival Names Performers
The 19th Annual Bay Area Storytelling Festival will be held May 22 and 23, 2004 at Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area in El Sobrante. The two-day event will host storytellers from around the United States and from diverse backgrounds. The festival is sponsored by the Storytelling Association of Alta California.
Scheduled to perform are Milbre Burch of Missouri, who performs both folktales and autobiographical stories, Vicki Juditz of Burbank who performs stories reflecting her urban life, Michael Parent of Maine who celebrates the Franco-American experience, Tim Tingle of Texas, who honors his Choctaw roots, and Gladys Coggswell of Missouri who will bring many of the call and response stories learned from her great-grandmother.
There will also be a showcase of California tellers called “California Gold,” featuring Clara Yen, Marilyn McPhie, and Tim Ereneta. There will also be two special workshops: Vicki Juditz will teach personal storytelling, and Michael Parent will teach a participatory workshop on how to get students to tell stories.
For all the registration information and fee schedule, go to www.bayareastorytelling.org or call 650-952-3397.
By AMY BENFER
By the late 70's, when I first read the Nancy Drew mysteries, they had
already become historical fiction: a series created in 1930, revised in 1959,
and full of turns of phrase that seemed quaint in the disco era. So in some
ways it wasn't much of a shock to find that Simon & Schuster had subjected
Nancy to an extreme makeover when it reissued three books in the series this
But in other ways, it felt like heresy. The millions of women who grew up reading Nancy Drew now treasure her in much the way they would an antique tea set or the look of white gloves with a suit: she is an artifact of gentility, of primness, of an era when villains posed as members of the household staff to steal a family heirloom and girl detectives made sure their shoes and pocketbooks matched. What I've always loved most about the novels is the sense that I am rummaging in my grandmother's attic, hoping to solve the mysteries of how women and girls were supposed to, though not always did, behave in the past.
In much the same way, we can rummage through Nancy I, II and III to see what the editors, and the culture, wanted to update. The 1959 overhaul included exchanging Nancy's beloved roadster for a convertible, raising her age from 16 to 18, changing her curly blond bob to a baroque titian flip and removing some of the more offensive racial and sexual stereotypes. The most recent revisions cover much the same territory: Nancy's car is now a gas/electric hybrid; her hair is a less florid strawberry blond and the plots and characters reflect our self-consciously progressive era.
How so? Well, Nancy volunteers at the animal shelter and displays her egalitarian principles by helping the housekeeper with errands. In the books just released, she saves an American Indian librarian's ancestral land from a greedy real estate developer; helps an African-American mayoral candidate and her professor husband find their missing pianist daughter; and returns the cash stolen from a charity bike ride. And I'm pretty sure that it's safe to call the "eccentric" neighbor, Mr. Safer - a bachelor who owns a cheese shop and worships Broadway musicals – an effort, however ham-fisted, at writing a sympathetic gay character.
What makes these modernizations doubly interesting is that they live side by side with the old Nancy. The new books are still loaded with vintage language. A villain is still a "dastardly deviant" and Nancy still has "hunches." Her
best friends are still George Fayne, the "tomboy," and Bess Martin, who is as "pleasantly plump" as she was 70 years ago.
There is one change in particular, however, that shatters the illusion that we're in the past. It's the shift to the first person. Nancy has started narrating her own adventures. The new perspective has some odd results: would the average teenage girl observe herself running her fingers through her own "shoulder-length strawberry blond hair"? Probably not. It also runs the risk of turning Nancy into a totem of our self-referential age.
In the end, though, I found myself embracing the new Nancy. However much I loved the novels, I've always hated Nancy Drew herself. In the third person, she came off as a prissy automaton of perfection. Armed with an I, she is more human, even self-effacing - closer to, say, Jo in "Little Women." Nancy Drew, 70 years later, is at last a character we can identify with.
Board Book Round-up
Time once again for ACL’s semi-annual Board Book Round-up, quick evaluations of the latest books for our youngest “readers.” As usual, publishers are marketing both series and individual titles, board books derived from picture books, those “spun off” from TV series, and a few nonfiction board books. For the first time, this column will profile bilingual board books (Spanish and English), which are of special interest to many of our Family for Literacy programs.
Henkes, Kevin. Julius’s Candy Corn. HarperFestival, 2003, $6.99, ISBN
Another of Henkes’s superior board books! Julius prepares for the Halloween party by eating all the candy corn off the cupcakes. The solid color text pages, done in bright pastel lavender, yellow, orange and green, face the comical illustrations. With the repetition and simple text and story, Henkes’s board books work as early readers, too.
Boynton, Sandra. Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy! A Touch, Skritch, & Tickle Book.
S&S, 2003, $11.95, ISBN 0-689-86363-2.
In the style of “Pat the Bunny,” Boynton’s hilarious animal cariacatures have fuzzy hair, soft cloth noses, sandpaper paws, and other tactile inserts that will please a wide age range in this oversized board book.
Miller, Margaret. Baby Pets. S&S, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-85313-0.
Close-ups of babies and their pets, including fish, guinea pig, dog, and bird (no cats, hmmm), are captioned with the word for the pet. Simple and clean.
Katz, Karen. Daddy and Me. S&S, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-84906-0.
Flaps open to show the various tools Daddy uses to fix things around the house. Daddy and daughter build a doghouse in this brief but fun story. The full color illustration style reminds me of the work of Monica Wellington.
Board Book Series
“Baby Love” series, no author listed. DK, 2003, $4.99 each.
I Like My Soft Teddy Bear, ISBN 0-7894-9822-7.
I Feel Soft and Smooth, ISBN 0-7894-9820-0.
I See Clouds In The Sky, ISBN 0-7894-9823-5.
I Can Smile At You, ISBN 0-7894-9821-9.
Color photos of babies and household items are captioned with first-person phrases: “I can count my little toes.” Bordering on too cute, these will be popular even though the text doesn’t tell a story.
“Sam’s Busy Day” by Yves Got, Chronicle Books, 2003, boxed
set of four $12.95. ISBN 0-8118-4074-3.
Sam is a white bunny with pink ears who wears clothes and lives in a human world, not the forest. Each of the four books, Sam’s Room, Sam’s Clothes, Sam Goes to the Store, and Sam Goes to the Park, features a single word under each illustration. The cartoon illustrations use deep pastel watercolors outlined in black, and have a charm that will please both babies and toddlers as well as emergent readers.
Kingfisher board books, illustrated by Mandy Stanley (no author listed),
Kingfisher, 2003, $3.95 each.
Playtime, ISBN 0-7534-5680-x.
Out and About, ISBN 0-7534-5679-6.
Shopping, ISBN 0-7534-5681-8.
Busy Bugs, ISBN 0-7534-5678-8.
A single word captions each picture in this series, which is more of a series of words than a story. The bright saturated colors are dominated by primary colors, outlined in thick black lines, giving the feeling of fun flashcards more than a book. Each features everyday things: Out and About shows weather, Playtime shows various toys, etc. so this series will work well as a pre-primer.
Leslie Patricelli series, by Leslie Patricelli, Candlewick, 2003, $6.99
Yummy Yucky, ISBN 0-7636-1950-7.
Big Little, ISBN 0-7636-1951-5.
Quiet Loud, ISBN 0-7636-1952-3.
A cartoon baby, distinctive in his or her white diaper and one curly hair sticking up out of the top of his or her head, stars in this humorous series. Each of the three titles features opposites: “Libraries are quiet. Playgrounds are loud,” and each concludes with a picture list of opposites. The energetic cartoon pictures will help emergent readers guess the vocabulary, making this a series of babies, toddlers, and even older preschoolers learning how to read.
“Talk-About Books” by Debbie Bailey, photos by Susan Huszar,
Annick Press, 2003, $5.95 each.
My Friends, ISBN 1-55037-817-1.
My Pet, ISBN 1-55037-816-3.
Number 17 and 18 in this popular series, photos of toddlers in common situations are the hallmark of this nonfiction series. The children pictured in the photos are from diverse ethnicities, and include special needs children, too. Since the situations are those all kids can relate to, and because the children pictured include older preschoolers, these will be popular with those children learning how to read.
“Magic Picture Book” series by Sue King, Chronicle Books, 2003,
On the Farm, ISBN 0-8118-4173-1.
At the Park, ISBN 0-8118-4174-X.
Little plastic panels are set onto each picture to give the illusion of 3-D and movement, harkening back to old 1950’s toys. The gimmick works well, and the full color cartoon illustrations show typical toddler experiences, like playing on a swing in the park or showing puppies in a barn.
“Caterpillar” board books, no author listed, Chronicle Books,
2003, $6.95 each.
Big Yellow Trucks and Diggers, ISBN 0-8118-4030-1.
Trucks and Diggers One to Ten, ISBN 0-8118-4029-8.
Color photos of machinery from the Caterpillar Tractor Company are featured in each of these concept books. Preschoolers interested in big machines can count the various items, like the headlights on a wheel dozer. In the book on colors, all the machines are yellow but are contrasted with the blue sky, green hardhat, etc. Successful but more for a select audience of machinery fans.
“Glow in the Dark Googly Eyes!” series, by Jessica Nickelson,
illus. by Matt Novak, S&S, 2003, $5.99 each.
Dinosaur Sleep, ISBN 0-689-85830-2.
Five Little Monsters, ISBN 0-689-85829-9.
Plastic eyes are set onto a character in each spread in these small rhyming board books. Very similar to fingerplay lyrics (“Five little monsters behind a spooky gate... the first one said Oh my, it’s getting late.), these are not very original but Novak’s cartoon illustrations are fun.
“DK Baby” song book series, DK, 2003, $5.99 each.
One Little Duck, ISBN 0-7894-9816-2.
Five in a Bed, ISBN 0-7894-9819-7.
In these oversized board books, lyrics to popular nursery songs make up the text. What’s distinctive are the photos illustrations: in Five in a Bed, the five bedmates are stuffed animals, and in One Little Duck, the ducks are rubber duckys. The sheet music is not included but many parents and children will know the melodies of these two storytime favorites.
Ann Burg series, by Ann Burg, illustrated by Kelly Asbury, HarperFestival,
2003, $5.99 each.
Winter Walk, ISBN 0-06-009742-6.
Autumn Walk, ISBN 0-06-009741-8.
Rhyming texts and clothes-clad animals make up this charming series. A cat celebrates winter: “Red boot up, red boot down, through the glistening snow. Look! Tiny twiglike tracks – I wonder where they go?” A dog comments on autumn, illustrated with retro-style cartoon illustrations. With more text than other board books, these seemed geared for toddlers and preschoolers.
Peter Mandel vehicle series, by Peter Mandel, illustrated by Edward Miller,
Scholastic, 2004, $6.99.
Planes at the Airport, ISBN 0-439-56416-6.
Boats on the River, ISBN 0-439-56415-8.
Descriptive sentences list a variety of boats and airplanes in this series for older toddlers and preschoolers. Despite the prosaic text, these are interesting due to the 1950’s style cartoon illustrations, done in deep pastel watercolors with angular people.
Board Books Derived from Picture Books
Barton, Byron. My Car. HarperFestival, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-056045-2.
This is a perfect example of a successful board book that was originally a picture book. A simple story and the bold, saturated colors will appeal to babies and toddlers. The nice twist at the end will get preschoolers to laugh, and emergent readers will find that the illustrations give lots of vocabulary clues. A gem.
Numeroff, Laura. What Daddies Do Best. Illus. by Lynn Munsinger. S&S,
2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-689-85973-2.
In the original picture book, there were two stories in one – what daddies do and what mommies do. In this board book edition, we get just the daddies’ story but this works for younger toddlers. Mommies’ board book also available.
London, Jonathan. What do You Love? Illus. by Karen Lee Schmidt. Harcourt,
2004, $6.95, ISBN 0-15-205054-X.
A simple rhyming text and repetition will entice energetic readers, and the bold typeface and animal families featured in the pictures make for a pleasant book that will appeal to a broad age range.
Arnold, Tedd. Five Ugly Monsters. Scholastic, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-439-52465-2.
Page for page, this board edition is just slightly smaller than the hardback, and with a sturdier binding. The humorous variation on “Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” will be a big hit!
Baker, Keith. Who Is The Beast? Harcourt, 2003, $6.95, ISBN 0-15-204752-2.
Although this has all the text and illustrations of the picture book, the smaller illustrations make it difficult to find the snail hiding in each picture.
Joyce, William. Rolie Polie Olie. Harper, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-055716-8.
This may be popular due to the Disney TV show based on this character, but stick with the picture book version. The board book is abridged, and the computer-generated art is more appealing in the larger size.
Ehlert, Lois. Growing Vegetable Soup. Harcourt, 2004, $6.95, ISBN 0-15-205055-8.
The bold, saturated colors of the art and simple story work well for the board book audience, and emergent readers will find lots of repetition in the text. The only thing missing is the recipe!
Berlin, Irving. God Bless America. Illus. by Lynn Munsinger. Harper, 2003,
$6.99, ISBN 0-06-00964-3.
Munsinger’s charming bear family works just as well in the board edition of this patriotic song. Even the sheet music is included, and the postcard-style “endpapers.”
Wells, Rosemary. Read To Your Bunny. Scholastic, 2003, $7.99, ISBN 0-439-54337-1.
The board book edition is larger in size than the small hand-held hardback picture book. Here the text captions each illustration instead of facing it, but the board binding is so much sturdier I think I prefer this edition.
Thompson, Lauren. Mouse’s First Halloween. Illus. by Buket Erdogen.
S&S, 2003, $7.99, ISBN 0-689-85584-2.
Repeated phrases and sound effects make this a fun not-scary Halloween story that will appeal to a wide age range, including emergent readers. The dark illustrations suit the story.
Alley, R.W. There Once Was A Witch. HarperFestival, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-000795-8.
A trick or treat rhyming story for preschoolers, with watercolor and ink illustrations that may be too detailed for toddlers. Sheet music included.
Bond, Felicia. The Halloween Play. Harper, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-054443-0.
The board book edition does not work for several reasons: the school play setting may not be familiar to toddlers, the small detailed pictures will be difficult for the intended audience to decode due to the sketchy ink style, and the story is a little long for toddlers.
Say “Hola!” to Bilingual Board Books
Boynton, Sandra. Azul el Sombrero, Verde el Sombrero. S&S, 2003, $5.99,
Boynton, Sandra. Muu. Beee. Asi Fue! S&S, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-86302-0.
Boynton’s signature wacky animal cartoons will please parents who won’t mind re-reading these favorites. In Spanish only (available in English only versions, too), these silly animals demonstrate colors and animals sounds.
Bailey, Debbie. Mi Animalito. Photos by Susan Huszar. Annick Press, 2003, $5.95, ISBN 1-55037-826-0.
Bailey, Debbie. Mis Amigos. Photos by Susan Huszar. Annick Press, 2003, $5.95, ISBN 1-55037-827-9.
Color photos and common childhood experiences will attract a wide age range of readers to this Spanish-only series (see the English versions listed above).
Santomero, Angela C. Buenas Noches, Blue. Illus. by Jenine Pontillo. S&S,
2003, ISBN 0-689-86309-8.
Based on the popular toddler TV program, Blue the dog gets ready for bed in this Spanish-only text.
Roth, Susan L. Mi Amor Por Ti/My Love For You. Dial, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-8037-2944-8.
In this simple counting book, an animal parent tells how much he or she loves their offspring. The cut-tissue paper collage illustrations are deeply layered and the bilingual text and counting element will draw a large audience of toddlers and preschoolers.
Rylant, Cynthia. Llename de Gracia. S&S, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-689-86305-5.
Offering a simple prayer for every day of the week, this Spanish-only (no English) text is a little long for the board book audience. The hand-lettered text and length make this for parents to read out loud, not for those learning how to read. Rylant’s simple folk art paintings suit the text.
Pandell, Karen. Te Amo, Sol, Te Amo, Luna/I Love You, Sun, I Love You, Moon.
Illus. by Tomie dePaola, Putnam, 2003, $6.99, ISBN 0-399-24165-5.
DePaola’s signature color cartoon children, of diverse ethnicities, are the highlight of this book. The text is very basic: children list the everyday things they love, from flowers to animals. Because the text is repetitive, it can serve as a bilingual pre-primer for emergent readers.
Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth. El Dia del Bebe! Houghton, 2003, $9.95, ISBN 0-618-38795-1.
Although this is not technically a board book, this small hand-held bound book features slick, plastic coated pages that will hold up to the demands of toddlers. The text is bilingual in both Spanish and English, translated from Wallace’s Baby Day! The English text rhymes, the Spanish does not, but it charmingly covers the average events in the day of a baby. There are also captioned pictures which will be great for emergent readers to read to younger siblings. The cut paper figures set on white backgrounds will also help readers guess the vocabulary. Good for a broad age range.
Board Books Based on TV Series
Willson, Sarah. Dora’s Halloween Adventure. Illus. by Steven Savitsky.
S&S, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-85844-2.
Featuring hard-to-open flaps, this may have worked better if it had been designed as a larger book, similar to Eric Hill’s “Spot” books. Dora and friends try to find the hidden Halloween candy.
Silverhardt, Lauryn. A Day at the Beach. Illus. by Jason Fruchter. S&S,
2003, $4.99, ISBN 0-689-85482-X.
Silverhardt, Lauryn. A Surprise Party. Illus. by Josie Yee. S&S, 2003, $4.99, ISBN 0-689-85483-8.
Although these are not truly bilingual, fans of the Dora animated TV series from the Nick Jr. cable network know she weaves Spanish vocabulary and phrases into her speech. These two stories describe common occurrences like a day at the beach or birthday party.
Beinsten, Phoebe. Counting With Osward. Illus. by Etsu Kahata. S&S,
2003, $4.99, ISBN 0-689-85434-X.
Silverhardt, Lauryn. Opposites With Oswald. Illus. by Etsu Kahata. S&S, 2003, $4.99, ISBN 0-689-85435-8.
The blue octopus, seen on a Nick Jr. cable TV animated series, stars in these simple concept books. The book on opposites is more engaging, due to the rhyming text, than the counting book, where you count the things Oswald holds.
Chanda, J-P. The Big Surprise. Illus. by Dan Kanemoto. S&S, 2003, $5.99,
Evans, Annie. Where’s Weenie? Illus. by Piero Piluso. S&S, 2003, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-85412-9.
These two lift-the-flap board books are a little larger than average, and each has an endearing story about Oswald the blue octopus’s dachshund.
What Were They Thinking?
Salmansohn, Karen. Art. Illus. by Brian Stauffer. Tricycle, 2003, $6.95,
Art collages offer plays-on-words that will be over the heads of anyone under the age of seven. For example, a painting of a van approaching a green traffic light, with a deep night “starry sky” above, is captioned “van Gogh.” This book is for snooty parents, not kids.
Schindel, John. Busy Doggies. Photos by Beverly Sparks. Tricycle, 2003,
$6.95, ISBN 1-58246-090-6.
Close-up photos of dogs are captioned with rhyming couplets: “Doggies playing...Doggies staying.” Unfortunately, too many of the photos are poorly lit or out of focus, which won’t work for babies or toddlers who are still developing depth perception and other visual skills.
San Leandro Public Library