USBBY Program Highlights Noteworthy International Books

At the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) presented a panel discussion called International Children’s Book Publishing: A Small Press Perspective. Representatives from Groundwood, Kane/Miller, Chronicle, and NorthSouth Books spoke about their line of children’s books as well as the history and characteristics of their publishing companies. There are many books I would like to highlight here today, but I’ve chosen two that made it home with me in my suitcase, allowing ample time for reading and relishing: Seasons by Anne Crausaz (Kane/Miller) and 999 Tadpoles (NorthSouth).

Everything is green. It must be springtime. With this simple statement of fact, author/illustrator Anne Crausaz begins her exploration of the seasons through a child’s five senses. Each two-page spread has an exquisite color palette that is never ordinary. The autumn leaves are especially striking in their subdued shades of grey-blue, burnt orange, and mustard. There’s a cool perfection to the images that is warmed by the rosy cheeks and freckled face of the young protagonist as she gathers tomatoes in her skirt or tastes the first blackberries of autumn. This title will make a lovely addition to preschool storytime collections – and your coffee table.

One warm spring day, 999 tadpoles were born. First published in Japan in 2003, this story begins in springtime as well. When the frog family grows too large for their pond, they embark on a journey to find a new home. When Father is grabbed by a hawk, the family grabs on, too, forming a long, froggy chain. The exhausted hawk eventually lets go, leaving the frogs (and the reader) dangling in suspense until a chorus of splashes announces the family’s arrival in their new home. Illustrator Yasunari Murakami’s tiny frogs are expressive in their simplicity and hilarious in their numbers. White space, green frogs, and round yellow eyes dominate the pages, making the appearance of cool blue at the end all the more satisfying.

Both of these titles are available for Suffolk County librarians to borrow from the SCLS Youth Services Review Collection. The 9th IBBY Regional Conference (sponsored by USBBY) is titled Peace the World Together with Children’s Books and takes place in Fresno in October.

Kerrilynn Hits the Road

Kerrilynn Hurley, a Teen Services Librarian at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library (MMSCL), presented at the ALA Annual Conference as part of a YALSA panel on Trends in YA Services: Using Mobile Devices to Serve Teens. Joining Kerrilynn on the panel was Jack Martin, New York Public Library, Jennifer Valesquez, San Antonio Public Library, Patrick F. Taylor Sci & Tech Academy students Enjoli Gilbert and Courtney Beamer, and Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System.

Kerrilynn spoke about a number of initiatives at MMSCL. In 2009, the library was awarded a grant to purchase 25 iPod Touches to use with the community. While their parents attended ESL classes, 15 high school students learned to use a variety of apps. At the end of the year party, each student demonstrated an app for an audience of their parents and peers.

A graduate of the School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College and a part-time librarian at Hampton Bays Public Library, Kerrilynn also wears another hat: Librarian on the Beach. She takes advantage of MMSCL’s proximity to the beach by bringing mobile devices and promotional material to Smith Point Beach. At a table on the boardwalk, Kerrilynn shows teens how to register online for programs, use the library catalog, and contact a librarian via text message. This summer, MMSCL will be sending a library van full of books, DVDs, laptops and library staff to the beach as part of the On the Road program. If you’ll be at the beach this summer, be sure to look for Kerrilynn!

To read more about the YALSA presentation on serving teens with mobile devices, take a look at moderator Linda Braun’s detailed post on the YALSA blog, which includes links to program handouts.

Spectrum Scholar from Suffolk Makes a Splash in New Orleans

Darla, a librarian trainee at the Half Hollow Hills Public Libray, is here in New Orleans at her first ALA conference as a 2010-2011 Spectrum Scholar. I caught up with Darla at last night’s Spectrum Professional Options Fair at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.

“This is just like speed-dating,” Darla laughed.

Darla was right: The Grand Ballroom was set up with tables representing various divisions of ALA, professional organizations, and OCLC, the fair’s sponsor. I was staffing the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) table along with ALSC president Mary Fellows and ALSC Membership/Marketing Specialist Dan Rude. Spectrum Scholars sought out tables of interest to network and learn more about proffessional opportunities.

Darla, who is a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College, still works at the Northport Public Library where she got her start as a page in the Youth Services Department. “Doris gave me so many conference tips on the plane ride down,” Darla said. I told Darla that when I was a trainee at Northport I was particulalry overwhelmed by my new role as reader’s advisor, and I kept recommending Sharon Creech to everyone who walked in the door. “I’m the same way with Neil Gaiman!” Darla confessed. Darla tackles this challenge by reading books off the new book carts at both of her libraries.

Darla left the ALSC table with a committee volunteer form in hand and encouragement from Mary Fellows to fill it out “multiple times.” Whether you are able to attend conferences or not, there are ways to get involved with ALA, and a little bit of perserverance always helps.

Including Children with Autism in Storytime

On April 27, 2011, Stacey Ratner presented “The Inclusion of Children with Autism” at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System. Ms. Ratner has kindly shared her powerpoint presentation, which is available here. The last few pages provide specific strategies and tips for helping children with autism (and all children) feel more comfortable in our storytime programs.

Changing program formats takes time and perseverance. Jill C. of the Longwood Public Library suggested getting back together at the end of summer to discuss our efforts to put Ms. Ratner’s recommendations into effect. This discussion will take place on Wednesday, August 17th in the SCLS Auditorium at 2pm. Please come and bring your success stories and tips as well as any failures. I’ll be eating a bagged lunch in the auditorium between 1pm and 2pm if you’d like to come early, bring your lunch, and browse books from the Review Collection.

Speaking of the Review Collection: on the very same day Ms. Ratner discussed using picture symbols with children with autism, a book titled Jay and Ben (Lee & Low) arrived in the Youth Services office. This story is translated into picture symbols and the accompanying website has resources for using the book with children with autism. The website indicates that replacement symbols (which will come in handy for libraries) as “coming soon.”

Spring Reading Round-up

As children and teens prepare to raid your libraries looking for good books to read, consider adding these titles to your reader’s advisory arsenal:

This morning I finally read Boston Globe–Horn Book honor award-winning Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White (Candlewick). While the gorgeous tiger on the cover receives the most “page time” and is one of the few animals illustrated with color paint (most are rendered in pencil), Jenkins and White also highlight animals that are already extinct, have been rescued from extinction, or are currently threatened. Written in a conversational tone with accompanying factoids and beautifully illustrated, this book will be appreciated by animal lovers, budding artists, and just about everyone else.

Last night I finished Hidden by Helen Frost (Francis Foster Books). While you’ve probably read a million stories about two fourteen-year-old girls at summer camp, you’ve never read one like this. This is poetry you can sell as a suspenseful-surprising-coming of age-quick-read for the 10 and up set. Thank you, Ms. Frost.

Where Do You Stay? by Andrea Cheng (Boyds Mills Press) has the fewest copies in the county of any of these titles, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. What I admired about Cheng’s 2010 offering Only One Year (Lee and Low) was how she never used an unnecessary word. Just like the way my mother irons, there’s never an extraneous stroke. In Where Do You Stay?, Cheng accomplishes the same while incorporating the repetition of key words and phrases, deftly introducing the themes in a way that is both subtle and shimmering. This is the perfect title to hand those future English majors in your book clubs.

Spinning in my car is Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney, read by Bahni Turpin, S’Von Ringo, and J.B. Adkins (Listening Library). There’s something about Davis Pinkney’s writing that begs to be read aloud. When Turpin read four lines of Hibernia (the somewhat overly dramatic aspiring singer) bawling as she thinks “I’m drenched from my bangs to my toe jam,” I laughed until I was misting too. This is summer road-trip worthy.  

And then there’s Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second, ((where you can read an excerpt and view the book trailer here)). Debut graphic novelist Brosgol was born in Moscow and raised in the U.S. Her protagonist, Anya Borzakovskaya, struggles with many of the issues a reader can presume Brosgol experienced herself. This is a sensitive and entertaining look at how a teen haunted by her past can come to a place of self-acceptance from just about any road – but it always helps to fall down a hole.

What are you reading?

New to Amagansett, Not New to Children’s Books

Jeanne McDermott is the new children’s and young adult librarian at the Amagansett Free Library. Jeanne is a graduate of the School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College and comes to librarianship from the children’s publishing world. Recently she has held an internship with the Brooklyn Public Library assisting with grant projects and conducting Saturday Story Time. If you’ve been a frequent attendee of the CLASC New Book Forums, you might remember when Jeanne visited as a special guest to discuss new books from Farrar Strauss & Giroux back in 2001. When FS&G merged with Macmillan in January of 2009, Jeanne became the Director of Marketing for children’s books.

Jeanne recently enjoyed the role reversal she experienced as she attended SLJ’s Day of Dialog for the first time as a librarian. She used to chuckle at the librarians who nabbed books in the exhibit hall by the bag full. “Now I’m one of those librarians!” she laughs, holding up her heavy bag.

Jeanne is putting the galleys she grabbed to good use. She’s starting a Read it and Rant it program for teens in Amagansett. Teens will have first crack at the galleys and an opportunity to write a review. Children are also reviewing library books. Dante, a library regular, has written a review of The Odious Ogre by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer, and Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman.  These reviews are posted on the end caps of the book shelves and on the sunny windowsill near the library hermit crab (who tweets, by the way.)

Next time you are passing through Amagansett, be sure to stop and say hello to Jeanne. If you’d like to learn more about Jeanne’s background in publishing, read the Publishers Weekly interview with Jeanne on her last day at Macmillan after 25 years in the children’s publishing industry!


On one of the hottest days of the year so far, Linda and Amy took me on a stroll through Sachem Public Library’s beautiful gardens, which are aptly named Inside/Out.

The purpose of the space, Linda says, “is to extend the library’s space outdoors, to get people up and moving.”

Strolling through the garden is one way to get moving; 11 laps around the circular path equals one mile. But Amy has a different kind of movement in mind with the two outdoor programs she’s planning for kids this summer: Mud and Where the Wild Things Are. “They can have their wild rumpus out here!” she says.

A brand new service this year is the Nature Explorer Kits, which are available for families to take out into the garden. Four types of kits are available, the Nature Explorer Kit, Nature Builder Kit 1 and Nature Builder Kit 2 (designed for older kids) and Nature Musician. These kits feature tools and toys children can use to explore, build, and make music in the outdoors. Many of the items are made out of natural wood.

For all the tech-types in the community, Sachem has extended its Wi-Fi services into the gardens. For music lovers, outdoor concerts are planned throughout the summer. With its contemplative garden, nature walk, and occasional wild rumpus, Inside/Out truly has something for everyone.

Buttons Spread the Word at Brookhaven

Jamie and Michelle (and other staff members at the Brookhaven Free Library) are sporting freshly minted buttons. These red and white badges were created by Michelle using SCLS’s new button making systems. The button colors tie in with Brookhaven’s theme “Celebrate Reading Under the Big Top” and the message reads: Program registration begins June 20th. Update your library card today!    

Do you have an upcoming event you’d like to promote with buttons? Give SCLS Youth Services a call to schedule an appointment to use the 1”, 1.5”, or 2.25” button making system.

Children’s Book Apps: Coming to a Library Near You?

At last week’s meeting of Suffolk County Children’s Department Managers, iPads in the children’s room were a hot topic. Purchasing iPads to replace children’s game computers, circulating iPads directly to customers, and using iPads in children’s programs were discussed. But with new children’s book apps coming on the market every day, what should you collect for a library iPad? Fortunately, librarians have a few more sources today than they did six months ago.

Kirkus has been reviewing children’s book apps since earlier this year. The column called “Interactive E-Books” appears at the beginning of each issue. At SLJ’s Day of Dialog, Touch and Go, SLJ’s new review blog for apps, was announced and a press release is up on their site. At the moment I’m writing this, nothing yet appears on this brand new blog. But while the world waits for Touch and Go’s first review, take a look at this discussion among the members of SLJ’s advisory board for reviewing kids’ book apps.