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July 2008

Calendar / News / Beatty / MediaWatch-CDs / Pop-Up Books


Upcoming Events for Children's Librarians

  • Fri, August 9, 2008         ACL Meeting           9 am            Berkeley PL

  • Fri, September 12, 2008         ACL Meeting           9 am            Berkeley PL

  • Fri, October 10, 2008         ACL Meeting           9 am            Berkeley PL


Tasha Tudor, Illustrator, Dies at 92

Tasha Tudor, a children's illustrator whose pastel watercolors and delicately penciled lines depicted an idyllic, old-fashioned vision of the 19th-century way of life she famously pursued - including weaving, spinning, gathering eggs and milking goats - died in June 2008 at her home in Marlboro, Vt. She was 92. Her son Seth confirmed the death. Two of Ms. Tudor's books were named Caldecott Honor Books: Mother Goose (1944) and 1 Is One (1956). Ms. Tudor was just awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association.

But it was her uncompromising immersion in another, less comfortable century that most fascinated people. She wore kerchiefs, hand-knitted sweaters, fitted bodices and flowing skirts, and often went barefoot. She reared her four children in a home without electricity or running water until her youngest turned 5. She raised her own farm animals; turned flax she had grown into clothing; and lived by homespun wisdom: sow root crops on a waning moon, above-ground plants on a waxing one. Starling Burgess, who later legally changed both her names to Tasha Tudor, was born in Boston to well-connected but not wealthy parents. Her mother, Rosamond Tudor, was a portrait painter, and her father, William Starling Burgess, was a yacht and airplane designer who collaborated with Buckminster Fuller.

In 1938 she married Thomas Leighton McCready Jr., who was in the real estate business. A fiddler played the wedding march. Mr. McCready encouraged his bride to put together a folio of pictures and seek publishers. She was repeatedly turned down before her first published book, Pumpkin Moonshine (1938), was accepted by Oxford University Press. It was the start of a flood, many still in print.

Ms. Tudor's favorite of all her books was Corgiville Fair, one of several she wrote about the Welsh corgi dogs she kept as pets, sometimes 13 or 14 at once. Her 1963 illustrated version of The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells of children enraptured by a mysterious garden. The volume of Clement C. Moore's Night Before Christmas that she illustrated remains popular.


Joan W. Blos will be honored with the 2008 John and Patricia Beatty Award for her book Letters from the Corrugated Castle: A Novel of Gold Rush California 1850-1852 (Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2007). The Beatty Award is given annually to the children's or young adult book that best represents California, its people, culture, and history.

The year is 1850. Thirteen year old Eldora and the couple she calls Aunt and Uncle have moved from quiet New Bedford, Massachusetts to bustling San Francisco in the midst of the California Gold Rush. They receive a letter from a woman who believes herself to be Eldora's mother. Is she? How will Eldora adjust to this new life and the possibility of a new family? Told in letters, Eldora's story unfolds amidst the backdrop of gold rush mining camps, Mexicano children, stage coach travel, and ranchero life.

The John and Patricia Beatty Award, established in 1987 by Patricia Beatty, has been given annually since 1989. Since 1999, BWI Books has co-sponsored the award with the California Library Association. The winning author receives an engraved plaque, along with a prize of $500, which is presented at the annual CLA Conference's Beatty Award Breakfast. The 2008 Beatty Award Committee consists of: Danita Eastman of County of Los Angeles Public Library, Kristen Murray of Fairfield Cordelia Library, chair Jeanne Kelly O'Grady of Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Patricia Sullivan of Irwindale Public Library, and Maida Wong of South Pasadena Public Library.


Madsen, Gunnar. I'm Growing. Gee, Spot! Records, 2008. Music CD $15.00.

The Bay Area is lucky to have Grammy nominee Gunnar Madsen as a resident (Berkeley in fact), so many families have been able to see him in person. The nationally known singer/composer has a new children's CD out that doesn't "dumb down" the music for kids. Founder of the a cappella group "The Bobs," Madsen's new CD of 15 songs features mostly original compositions with a few folks songs like "Shenandoah," and this is one CD the parents will want to have just as much as the kids.

The title track is a pop song about growing, "Pumpkin Hair" is a country-infused celebration of redheads, and "Sun Comes Up" has a Caribbean feeling. Each cut is in a different musical style but Madsen is brilliant at all of them!

There is a duality to all the songs that allow a child to take one thing from a tune, and adults to see more layers. For example, "There's a Bowl of Milk in the Moonlight" works as a lullaby, but adults will appreciate that it can also work as a drinking song at a pub's "last call." "Raise Your Voice" will work as a chorus number for school assemblies about brotherhood; Madsen's great liner notes describes how he was inspired to write the song after seeing gay marriages in San Francisco in 2004.

Librarians will want to adopt "Library Party" as their personal anthem. Instead of "shushing," Madsen has us dancing and singing in the library when it is closed! It reminded me of a rockbilly song or something from Broadway's "Hairspray" or "Grease."

Madsen's recordings always have the best musical accompaniment and this CD is no different. All of the instruments are played by Madsen, from guitar and piano to accordion, and he is joined by a few background vocalists that round out the amazing arrangements. Look for Madsen on the list of next year's Grammy nominees in the category of Musical Album for Children.

Leeny and Steve. Be Nice. Leeny and Steve, 2008. Music CD $14.00.

Aimed at the toddler audience, Leeny and Steve perform original pop songs with great musical accompaniment that will have the kids dancing along.

If your kids like "The Wiggles," this CD will appeal to them but also appeal more to adults since these songs are not as cheesy as "The Wiggles." The topics covered in the lyrics include food, animals, diapers, family, and other toddler-friendly topics.

Leeny Altman sings lead on all the cuts, with a voice similar to Carol King's. The songs are done in a variety of styles, from ballads, to lullabies, to rocking dance songs, which shows the versatility of the artists and should also appeal to kids. "What Can I Do?" features a spoon solo by Steve; all of the percussion and piano are standouts on these songs.

Teachers may want to adopt some of the songs for school assemblies, especially "Ain't Ain't a Word," and "The Dictionary Song."

Although Leeny and Steve live in Massachusetts, Leeny is originally from the Bay Area and still has family who lives here, so local families may be able to see them in concert. This may create a demand for the CD; or, families may pick it up at your library due to the song titles which have a lot of child appeal.

BayNews needs you! BayNews welcomes any articles, news, ideas on storytime or programs, etc. Just send any articles as a Word attachment via email, to Penny Peck at [email protected]. Thanks!

Pop-up Book Review

by Penny Peck, San Leandro Public Library

Seuss, Dr. Horton Hears a Who Pop-up! Pop-ups by David A. Carter. Robin Corey/ Books/Random House, 208/1954. $25.99, ISBN 9780375841941.
With a plethora of delicate pop-ups, this edition of the Dr. Seuss classic is not suitable for library circulation, but could be fun to use in a library's toy collection or as a gift book. The text is not abridged or adapted; as the note on the back states: "containing the complete text of the original." With five large three-dimensional popups and eleven small popup booklets, this is great for Seuss fans and children first grade and up who can read the book on their own.

With the new animated feature film of Horton Hears a Who coming soon to DVD, there may be renewed interest in this particular Seuss classic. The message is clear but not didactic - "A person's a person no matter how small," and the pop-up artwork preserves Seuss's illustration style. I had forgotten that the little people seen by Horton are the Whos, who I assume are the same Whos that live in the Whoville in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Van Fleet, Matthew. Alphabet. S&S, 2008. $19.99, ISBN 9781416955658.
Not a popup, this begins with the tails of various animals spelling out "Alphabet," in the style of Van Fleet's earlier book Tails, with cloth or paper insets for the animals' tails. Each letter is represented by an animal, such as Alligagor, Bee, or Cougar, drawn in cartoon style. Most of the animals have a tactile element, including foil to give the fish sparkle, or a sticky paper used for the tentacles of the octopus. There are a few flaps, and some moveable parts, but overall it may hold up to library circulation. The alphabet aspect is a success, and the rhyming text adds interest, too. Give it a try at storytime.

Reinhart, Matthew and Sabuda, Robert. Fairies and Magical Creatures. Candlewick, 2008. $27.99, ISBN 9780763631727.
The newest entry in the Encyclopedia Mythologica series from Reinhart and Sabuda, this has their signature complex popups, along with small booklets that also contain popups and a fair amount of text about the subject. The dramatic popups include a unicorn, a castle, Titania from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and ocean fairies in a giant shell. With a palette of pastel colors and metallic highlights, the artwork and popups are amazing. Of course, this won't stand up to library circulation, but could work as a gift book or for a shelf of popup library books that do not circulate. There is enough information for short reports on mythical creatures and the origins of fairy tale characters, so this is a worthy purchase for special collections.

Marshall, Ray. The Castaway Pirates. Illus. by Wilson Swain. Chronicle Books, 2008. $19.99, ISBN 9780811859233.
Subtitled "A Pop-up Tale of Bad Luck, Sharp Teeth, and Stinky Toes," a rhyming text tells the tale of a sinking pirate ship. While they try to plug it with the Captain's shoe, coat, rope, and so on, a shark hovers nearby. A cumulative text and repeated chorus adds interest, which makes this a great choice for preschool storytime. The pop-ups are large and dramatic, but their impact is diminished by the soft pastel colors and shading which make it difficult to see what is happening. Bold, bright colors would have served the pop-ups better. Still, a good choice for pirate fans.

Cousins, Lucy. Maisy's Nature Walk: A Maisy First Science Book. Candlewick, 2008. $12.99, ISBN 9780763634568.
Because Maisy's walk through nature includes several encounters with insects, this will be perfect for this summer's "Catch the Reading Bug" storytimes. Maisy the clever white mouse (who has her own TV show), walks by a pond with a duck, a field with flowers, a snail, and a frog. When you pull the tabs, the creatures "pop up" just slightly, but the effect will engage the storytime audience. As always, Cousins' deeply colored, bold illustrations are perfectly suited to babies and toddlers.

Barry, Frances. Big Yellow Sunflower. Candlewick, 2008. $5.99, ISBN 9780763637248.
Barry, Frances. Litle Green Frog. Candlewick, 2008. $5.99, ISBN 9780763637255.

Dubbed "Fold Out and Find Out" books, this duo look like board books from the outside. But inside, they have paper pages and don't just turn left, but fold up and around. In Sunflower, as each page turns we see the leaves of a sunflower appear; after they are all unfurled, the final picture is a big sunflower. Under the inside flap are instructions on how to grow a sunflower. The text on each page has repetition, asking what is growing, making it a great choice for storytime. In Frog, the pages unfurl to become lily pads, and the text shows eggs, then tadpoles, and finally frogs, showing toddlers the basics of a frog's life cycle. These are currently circulating at my library and haven't shown any wear or tear.

Dubois, Liz Goulet. What Kind of Rabbit are You? Little Simon, 2008. $7.99, ISBN 9781416949145.
Sturdy popups and a lilting rhyme combine to make this small book a success. Rabbits in a variety of colors are shown, along with old and young, soft spoken and loud, standing and sitting, and other opposites making this a useful concept book. The pastel colored illustrations may carry to a small lapsit group who will enjoy the story.

Holub, Jean. Five Spring Fairies. Illus. by Kathy Couri. Little Simon, 2008. $9.99. ISBN 9781416939061.
Fairies, who look like trolls dressed as flowers, change things in the garden. The simple rhyme works fine, but as each fairy is counted, there is no numeral, just the word for the number. The small popups are very delicate, and the illustrations are too greeting card cutesy, so this is better for a gift than for a library.

Symes, Sally. Caterpillar to Butterfly. Illus. by Sharon Harmer. Little Simon, 2008. $8.99. ISBN 9781416947530.
A small felt stuffed animal caterpillar on an elastic thread goes through the die-cut holes in this board book. A rhyming text describes the caterpillar's journey into each new page, which is dominated by a different color: "Red is good and red is fine, but there must be more to this life of mine." In the next to last spread, he forms a brown cocoon, and in the last he pops up to be a butterfly. Stick with Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Pienkowski, Jan. Dinner Time. Candlewick, 2008. $6.99, ISBN 9780763638542.
One by one, animals are eaten in this story which will either have a preschooler laughing out loud, or horrified! First we see a frog, who has a mouth that pops out of the page. A vulture eats the frog, a gorilla eats the vulture, and so on until the shark has the final meal. Each animal is depicted in bright colors, showing just his head and his mouth that pops out from the book's gutter. Maybe older kids are the audience for this macabre humor.

Saltzberg, Barney. Peekaboo, Blueberry! Harcourt, 2008. $8.95, ISBN 9780152060626.
Suitable for lapsit storytime, Blueberry the Bunny names his eyes, nose, ears, etc. which are hidden under flaps in this small simple book with a "peekaboo" theme. The final illustration is of a door, complete with noise-making doorbell, showing Blueberry. Bright, bold, deeply saturated colors make these illustrations clear for babies but the flaps will probably tear easily.

Submitted by : Penny Peck, San Leandro Public Library

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