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Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson

by Morgan Reeves on February 20th, 2015
Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson Cover Image

Moments ago I finished reading Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson. I’ve been reading it on the bus, before bed, while I cook, and even on my walk home. It has been my constant companion since I first became enthralled by the girl with no name and her encounter with a witch and enchanted forest. After running into Remington, a knight-to-be, she soon finds her way to Pennyroyal Academy, where Princesses of the Shield are trained to fight witches. Here anyone can become a princess, if only they train hard enough and learn well enough. Given a diagnosis of suffering from a memory curse, the girl is also give a name, Cadet Eleven or Evie for short. With only a dragon scale and clothes of cobwebs as hints to her past, she feels a bit out of place. However, she soon befriends other outcast girls, though she does have trouble with a sour princess-in-training, aptly named Malora. Learning the history of princesses, navigating warrior training with a Fairy Drillsergeant, and even sewing lessons with the master tailor troll  offer challenges Evie must find the strength to overcome. Twists and turns throughout the story left me guessing (and sometimes peeking to the last chapter). By discovering the truth of her memories and family, Evie is finally free to be herself. A slight undercurrent of romance between Evie and Remington satisfies without overpowering the main story of a girl deciding for herself who she is and what she wants to be. Cheeky nods to classic fairy tales round out this world of witches, princesses, dragons and knights. Pick up this story of self-discovery and adventure for a dose of princess power.

The Princess in Black

by Casey Lambert on February 5th, 2015

Fantasy dynamos Shannon and Dean Hale have done it again, this time for the younger crowd.  Their most recent book, The Princess in Black, is the first installment in what is sure to be a beloved series. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham this early chapter book is loaded with high impact, full color illustrations that play beautifully with the delightful text.

Not only is she the quintessential pink wearing, tea sipping, delicate and dainty princess but Magnolia has a monster fighting, black wearing, day-saving alter ego–the Princess in Black. Even her horse, Frimplepants, is a unicorn by day and faithful crime fighting steed by tea time. Children and adults alike will get a kick out of the tongue in cheek humor, appreciate the bending of traditional gender mores and will love the way Magnolia shows us all that we can be whomever we choose. princess black 1

ICPL Children’s Room to Debut Playing is Learning Exhibit

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 5th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will debut Playing is Learning, a new interactive exhibit in the Ellen Buchanan Children’s Room on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Playing is Learning, a collaborative project with The University of Iowa, the DeLTA Center, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the National Science Foundation, The Iowa Children’s Museum, and ICPL emphasizes the importance play has on children’s development. By identifying eight skills that playing builds – creativity, self-regulation, spatial awareness, language, healthy bodies, number knowledge, social skills, and conceptual thinking – Playing is Learning recognizes the role that play has in lifelong learning.

In order to share this information with families, Playing is Learning developed the “Games of Games,” an interactive card game full of creative ways children and adults can play together. Each card contains two parts: “Did you know?” informs about a skill play builds while “Try this at home!” describes games parents and children can play to build each skill.

The Library’s Playing is Learning exhibit includes cards from the “Games of Games” deck. Parents are invited to take a card and play with their child during Library visits or at home. Parents also can purchase the entire “Game of Games” deck for $7 at the Help Desk.

“We are excited to have this exhibit at the Iowa City Public Library, and to provide more opportunities for families to play and learn together,” said Vickie Pasicznyuk, children’s services coordinator.

For more information about the exhibit, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

For more information about Playing is Learning, visit www.playingislearning.org

And the winner is….

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on February 3rd, 2015
And the winner is…. Cover Image

On Monday, February 2, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the 2015 Newbery and Caldecott award winners.  These books have won the most prestigious prizes in children’s literature.

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander–Twin brothers Josh and Jordan are basketball stars and great friends, until a girl gets in the way.  A middle grade story of brotherhood and basketball told in a variety of poetic styles.

Newbery Honor Books: El Deafo by Cece Bell and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat–An imaginary friend sets out on a journey to find a real child to befriend.

Caldecott Honor Books: Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo, The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPre, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

For other award winners, see the full list.

 

 

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on January 27th, 2015
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole Cover Image

Sam and Dave have dug a hole in my mind. At the risk of sounding like a heretic in the realm of children’s librarians, I’ll admit that I’ve not been a fan of Jon Klassen’s hat books. Grim humor is just not my thing. So with reluctance, and only after hearing all the buzz, I decided I did need to read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. And my first reaction was bewilderment—“What happened there?” So I read it again. And again. And yet again. And then looked at the illustrations. And then looked at them some more. I shared it with my teenage daughter, who shared it with her friends. (“Freaky!” was their verdict, which was a compliment.) And somehow, it has grown on me. I still don’t really understand it. Neither does anyone else, I’ve learned. There are many theories about what it really means. But what did the dynamic duo of Barnett intend for it to mean? And will we ever find out where Sam and Dave really are? The ending is unnerving, and I keep turning it over in my mind. The spare text, subdued illustrations, and determined characters remind me a bit of The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson, though a bit grimmer. (Still, The Carrot Seed family is a bit harsh, too, don’t you think?) Will Sam and Dave achieve the same classic status? If you haven’t read it yet, get your hands on Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. And please…explain it to me!

P.S. Check out Barnett and Klassen’s other collaboration Extra Yarn, which I love. It’s sweetly satisfying and will always remind me of Iowa City’s Tree Huggers!

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs!

by Karen Gordon on January 6th, 2015

I’m a dog person, so naturally if I see a new dog picture book on the shelf I grab it. All of us in the Children’s Room will agree that a dog storytime is always a hit!

In 2014, there were lots of picture books about dogs published and so many of them are funny, clever and of course, cute!

Maggi and Milo by Juli Brenning

Maggi and MiloMaggi is an adventurer and a pretty good songwriter. Her border collie, Milo, is her best friend. Maggi gets a package from her grandma with all the necessities for a frog hunt, boots, and a book about frogs. Why frogs? A quick look at her bedroom reveals a fascination with frogs, including frog drawings, slippers, etc.
“I’m a frog hunter and he is Milo!” she announces, and together they wander off to the pond. After waiting a “million minutes” for something to happen, she’s bored! Milo wanders off. A panicked search for Milo in the muck reveals Milo has found a frog! Milo finds even more frogs and at the end of the day,”Side by side, they sat on the edge of the world, just listening to the frogs say good night.”

Here are a few more doggie books to enjoy:

This book just ate my dog!This Book Just Ate My Dog! By Richard Byrne
“When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right.”

If You Were a Dog by Jamie A. Swenson.If you were a dog
Easy-to-read text invites the reader to imagine life as a dog, a cat, a fish, a bird, and even a dinosaur.

 

Gaston words by Kelly DiPucchio; pictures by Christian RobinGastonson
A proper bulldog raised in a poodle family and a tough poodle raised in a bulldog family meet one day in the park.

Time for bed fred

 

 

 

 

Time for Bed, Fred by Yassmeen Ismail.
A child has a very difficult time getting Fred, the dog, to bed.

 

Eddie and the Dog by Alison Brown  Eddie and Dog
Eddie longs for a friend who likes adventure and finds the perfect match in Dog.

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2014: Children’s Books

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 30th, 2014

The Library’s Children’s Staff stepped things up this year, providing the longest list of recommended titles. These books range from stories perfect for bedtime stories to chapter books for independent readers. Perhaps your child’s new favorite is on this list!

ICPL BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2014

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham

Hermelin the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy – II

Puddle Pug by Kim Norman

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Sparky by Jenny Offill

Quest by Aaron Becker

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Mix It Up! By Herve Tullet

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Maple by Lori Nichols

Moo! By David LaRochelle

Underwater Dogs: Kids edition by Seth Casteel

Found by Salina Yoon

One Book Two Book Moves to March

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on December 22nd, 2014
One Book Two Book Moves to March Cover Image

If you’ve been waiting for information about One Book Two Book, the annual celebration of children’s literature in the City of Literature, here’s the scoop—the date has changed! Traditionally held in January, the festival will be moving to March 6-8 in 2015. All events will be held in downtown Iowa City, based at the Sheraton Hotel.

Author and illustrator David LaRochelle will be visiting and sharing his work. He has written several picture books, including Moo!, It’s a Tiger, and The Best Pet of All, as well as a young adult novel, Absolutely, Postively Not. LaRochelle didn’t start out to be an author. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a balloon man or maybe a cartoonist like Charles Schulz. During college, his dreams shifted to becoming a Hallmark card illustrator, until he was told he didn’t draw well enough. He decided to become a teacher. While teaching elementary school, LaRochelle began writing for kids. With over 25 books published, LaRochelle now writes and illustrates full-time. Although he no longer teaches, he visits schools and libraries regularly to talk about his books. In his spare time, he is also a professional pumpkin carver, whose artistry has been featured on the Good Morning America show.

One Book Two Book will also feature additional authors, and the full line-up will be announced soon. Other activities will include special events to recognize local student authors, a children’s book fair, live entertainment, face painting, arts and crafts, and more. Kids will also get to meet other special guests—children’s book characters Frog & Toad, Martha from Martha Speaks, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Babymouse, and Geronimo Stilton. It will be a fun-filled weekend, so get out those brand new 2015 calendars and save the dates for One Book Two Book!

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy

by Morgan Reeves on November 29th, 2014
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy Cover Image

Two dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year where all four of the very different boys will be in school. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy follows this unique, and at the same time totally normal, family throughout the year as they deal with their individual problems. Twelve year-old Sam is a soccer player, a cool kid looked up to as the example for his younger brothers. Can he transfer his talent for storytelling into a part in the school play, and more importantly still be cool? 10 year-old Jax thinks Sam is the coolest, and wants to be accepted as part of the same crowd, now that he’s in the same school building. But with a changing friendship and a school project hanging over his head, Jax might end up more behind than ever.  Eli, also 10 (but a couple of months younger), is starting a new, expensive, academically minded school, trading familiar faces for scholarly challenges. When his new school turns out to be less amazing than he had hoped, he struggles with the his ability to admit he made a mistake. Six year-old Froggie (not Jeremiah) is excited to start kindergarten with Flare, his invisible cheetah. His biggest problems are asking for kittens, turtles and convincing his family that his new friend Ladybug is real girl.

Even with all of their individual issues to work through, the whole family comes together for the biggest Halloween party ever, camping trips, and convincing their grumpy neighbor Mr. Nelson that they mean no harm. With loving support from both Papa and Dad (who have some misadventures of their own), the Fletchers work together to overcome all obstacles that come their way. This is a fun romp that just happens to have a diverse family at the heart of it.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on November 24th, 2014
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier Cover Image

“3 weeks   2 sisters   1 car”  Perfect for the holidays—the quintessential family road trip!

I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a great job of convincing me to broaden my horizons. I just read her newest title, Sisters, which explores the complexity and humor of sibling rivalry and family relationships. Sisters evokes a universal familiarity. Who doesn’t remember the family road trip as the perfect time to fight and bond?

Telgemeier’s first autobiographical novel, Smile, continues to be incredibly popular. Booklist described it as “possibly the only universally embraced graphic novel on the planet.” Sisters continues Raina’s story, sharing how she and her sister Amara fight their way to common ground, against the backdrop of a family reunion, also filled with family fights and affections. Sisters left me with a smile and warm memories of my own sisters…and wishing for more. Perhaps Telgemeier will turn me into a graphic novel fan yet!

Sisters and Smile both have hold lists on them at the library, but they are worth the wait. (And the lists aren’t too long!) While you’re waiting, you could check out a couple of my other favorite sister books, touching picture books great for all ages: Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham and Maple & Willow Together by Lori Nichols.

This week I get to see one of my sisters, and I’m excited to share Sisters with her. We can relate–it’s surprisingly like our story!




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