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Read to Get Ready for STEAM Fest!: Picture Book Biographies of STEAM Pioneers

by Anne Wilmoth on May 15th, 2017

There’s nothing I love more than a good picture book biography of a little-known historical figure; something that makes you let out a surprised “Huh!” when you turn the final page.

In honor of this week’s STEAM Festival for children (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) here are a handful of books on STEAM trailblazers that promise to fascinate the adult reading them aloud just as much as the child listening.

ThThumbnaile Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

When Paul Erdos was four years old, he liked to amuse strangers by asking them their age, then announcing how many seconds they’d been alive, after just a moment of mental calculation.  Paul grew up into a brilliant but eccentric mathematician – “he didn’t fit into the world in a regular way” and needed his mother and friends to see to his basic needs – who traveled the world working with other mathematicians, doing math up to nineteen hours a day, and coming up with new kinds of math.  Numbers are sprinkled throughout this simply-told, charming story.

Thumbnail Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Society tried to thwart her at every turn, but the first female doctor in America (she graduated from medical school in 1849), wouldn’t be dissuaded.  In a situation that seems laughable today but was all to real in our country’s history, all the other tenants in the building where she opened her first practice were so horrified that they immediately moved out.  Today, more than half of all U.S. medical school students are women, thanks to Elizabeth Blackwell.

Thumbnail Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wellmark

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by trying to wrap their mind around the leap from the first computer to the sophisticated, lightning-fast information machine that we all now carry around in our pocket?  Women have been instrumental in computer technology since its inception, starting with Ada Byron Lovelace.  This thinker, tinkerer, and girl fascinated by numbers went on to write the algorithm that allowed her colleague’s Thinking Machine to work – making her the world’s first computer programmer.

Thumbnail Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

The Ferris wheel, that mainstay of summer amusement parks across America, got its start at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., a mechanical engineer, won a contest seeking a design more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower, which had wowed attendees at the previous World’s Fair.  The fair committee thought his design couldn’t possibly work and refused to give him the money to build it.  George, despite being laughed out of most banks, eventually secured a loan and paid for the wheel himself; he and wife took the first ride.  The story of this feat of engineering and nostalgic piece of Americana is depicted in illustrations washed in blue and purple that evoke twilight at a state fair, alongside text bursting with fascinating bits of detail.

Thumbnail Balloons Over Brodway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The little boy who designed a rope-and-pulley system so he could feed the family’s chickens while lying in bed grew up to become the entirely self-taught “father of American puppetry,” the man behind those giant character balloons that millions of people watch on TV every Thanksgiving.  When Tony Sarg came to America, he designed mechanical marionettes for a Macy’s window display.  Later, Macy’s asked him to come up with something more spectacular for the parade than live animals, which were frightening the children – and Tony Sarg’s innovative balloons have risen on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1928.

After finding some inspiration in these books, come down to ICPL’s STEAM Festival and do some problem-solving and discovery of your own!  The STEAM Festival takes place on Friday, May 19 from 9:30-2:30 and Saturday, May 20 from 10-4.

La Madre Goose

by Casey Maynard on February 17th, 2017

Image result for la madre gooseLa Madre Goose by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, has become my new favorite picture book for February.

Elya is famous for intermixing Spanish and English within her stories in a way that incorporates rhythm and rhyme.  Her updates to traditional Mother Goose rhymes are no exception in this collection.

The poems and classic rhymes presented here seamlessly flow from Spanish to English and back again making it a lovely read aloud for any family. Martinez-Neal’s warm illustrations help show those not as familiar with the Spanish vocabulary what the slight changes to the rhymes are.   The glossary directly following the title page also helps to make this accessible for multi or single language homes.

Children and parents familiar with classic Mother Goose will be certain to enjoy the twists and turns that this bilingual title takes.

This Little Puerco

 

Drum Roll, Please…

by Casey Maynard on January 3rd, 2017

Image result for caldecott medal pngThe votes have been tallied with more than 100 cast for our Mock Caldecott nominees. Of the fifteen titles chosen we are naming one winner and five honor books as there was a tie for the fourth space. Without any further ado, let’s get to which titles you chose to represent ICPL’s first Mock Caldecott Award.

And the Winner is…

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Mock Caldecott Award 2016

by Casey Maynard on December 5th, 2016

This year we are trying something new at ICPL, a Mock Caldecott award.  Every year, the American Library Association awards the Randolph Caldecott Medal to a distinguished American picture book. For full eligibility requirements and criteria please visit the AlA’s Caldecott website. Also, stop by the Children’s Room to see a wonderful and informative display regarding the history of the award that Mari Redington has put together in the small display case.

Keeping eligibility requirements in mind we have put together a list of 15 possible contenders for the 2017 award. We ask that you read all of these titles before voting, or as many as you can get your hands on. When voting please pick and rank your top five titles: one winner (1) and four honor books (2-5). Paper ballots are available and are being collected at the Children’s Room Desk.  If you are unable to cast a paper ballot and are familiar with the titles, then please feel free to comment with your top five on or before December 31st.

We will be announcing the winning ICPL Caldecott titles at the beginning of 2017, shortly before the ALA midwinter meeting where they will be announcing the Medal and Honor winners.  How fun would it be if we have picked a winner or an honor book?!  Read the rest of this entry »

I Will Not Eat You

by Casey Maynard on November 9th, 2016

From the author of Warning: Do Not Open this Book, Please, Open this Book, and Chicken in Space comes a brand new adventure! I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Scott Magoon, is a delight and perfect for this late-onset autumn. It has everything you could possibly want as the days get shorter: mystery, suspense, chase scenes and happy endings (maybe?).
The dark color palette hints at the story’s capacity for equally colored humor and continually builds suspense concerning who our not-so-hungry protagonist might be. It is only when the stakes are highest that the true identity of the creature in the cave is revealed.  For more fun hints as to the identity of this stranger, check out the book trailer below, or better yet, the book!

 

Leave Me Alone!

by Casey Maynard on October 5th, 2016

Image result for vera brosgol leave me aloneLeave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol is one of my new favorite picture books for 2016.  It’s funny, original and has a great message.  The art is wonderful and jam packed with highly colorful detail. A must read for anyone who enjoys their space when working on projects–especially knitters and crocheters–introverts and grumpy ladies.

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The Darkest Dark

by Casey Maynard on September 19th, 2016

Overcoming a fear of the dark has never been so fun or beautiful. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and illustrated by the Fan brothers has become my new favorite book of September! Be sure to stop by the ICPL children’s department to check it out.

 

Image result for the darkest darkImage result for the darkest dark

Return

by Casey Maynard on August 11th, 2016

The final installment of Aaron Becker’s Journey trilogy is finally here and was it ever worth the wait. Return is a breathtaking finale that equals its prior installments in every way. Immensely detailed, cinematic and profound, Return is the perfect denouement to Becker’s seminal series. While in essence this is the culmination of the trilogy, Return denotes and necessitates a renaissance of the Journey,Return to the beginning.

For those of you unfamiliar with Aaron Becker’s work, I highly recommend starting at the beginning of his wordless Journey. Personally I have enjoyed going from start to finish to start–it’s incredible to compare the detail in these works side by side. I look forward to seeing where Aaron Becker will take us next but will go on this journey over and over both in anticipation and continuous wonder. 

Check out the videos below from his website–the first is a mini documentary about the making of Journey the second is the official book trailer for Return. 

the MAKING of JOURNEY

 

Poor Little Guy

by Casey Maynard on July 18th, 2016

Elanna Allen, illustrator of the Violet Mackerel series, has released a new picture book–Poor Little Guy. Following the troubles of a tiny fish who, unfortunately, is caught in the clutches of a much larger bully–Poor Little Guy packs a surprising punch. Allen uses the entire picture book to move the narrative forward. This includes an initially subtle shift in the background palette as our protagonist gets consistently more frustrated, from blue-green to deep purple and back again as the situation resolves itself. Be certain to take extra care with the endsheets, framing, pacing, font and color choices within the work as each aspect of this book is purposeful. Children will delight in the triumph of the underdog and the foreshadowing of the further trials of our puffer protagonist. Fans of dark humor and just desserts will not be disappointed and will beg for rereads.

Click Poor Little Guy to see a book trailer from Penguin Young Readers Group.

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

by Casey Maynard on April 25th, 2016
A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals Cover Image

Once upon a time there was a hilariously funny picture book that had me laughing so hard I cried, but only a little. I’m sure you can tell by the title that A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals is about a lion who is ravenous and some animals who disappear.  Where do they go? You’ll have to read the book to find out even though you probably have a guess already.  I did, and boy was I wrong.

Lucy Ruth Cummins’ debut picture book is side-splitting and surprising. Jon Klassen’s quote on the back cover sums it up nicely, “So smart and so cute and so dark all at the same time. Sheesh.” A must read!




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