International Children’s Books

At Wednesday’s meeting of Children’s Department Managers at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Doris Gebel told us that part of her role as president of USBBY will be planning for 2013’s International Children’s Book Day. This event will be “hosted” by the United States and Ashley Bryan, recent winner of the Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be designing the poster. Doris also shared her concern that librarians, parents, and children may not gravitate to international books because the art or subject matter can be challenging to the sensibilities of our western culture. For example, a book like Duck, Death and Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, translated by Catherine Chidgey, has been reviewed positively in four journals but is not making its way into many collections in Suffolk County. (We have this title in the SCLS office if you’d like to review it.)

Nonetheless, it’s a reality that if we do add these noteworthy titles, they may not fly off our shelves. (They might need a librarian like you to champion them!) If you find yourself forced to make a tough weeding decision over a book that was originally published in another country, please touch base with Doris at the Northport-East Northport library. She is looking into developing a deep collection of international books in her children’s department and may be able to accommodate a book that is not finding readers in your community.

Not sure how to find international books that your patrons may enjoy? Take a look at the recent SLJ article that highlights the Outstanding International Books of 2011.

After the meeting I opened my email and found the latest newsletter from Novelist featuring an interview with…can you guess? Doris Gebel! Take a look at the interview titled Best Practices: International Children’s Books.

Suffolk County Public Librarians!: Comment on this blog post by Friday and receive a free international book for your collection!

Anne Pellowski Returns to the Suffolk Cooperative Library System

A wonderful confluence of events will bring a world-renowned storyteller to our doorstep this February. Anne Pellowski is in between visits to Ethiopia, where she taught families how to make their own cloth books, and Central America, where she will assist with the Bibliobus project. A native of Wisconsin and active member of the International Board on Books for Young People, Anne is truly a citizen of the world. Anne has kindly offered to present a program on storytelling for librarians on Friday, February 3rd at 10:00am in the SCLS auditorium. She will demonstrate how she makes cloth books and teach us storytelling techniques using our fingers, string, paper, and handkerchiefs.

Anne presented at SCLS about 18 years ago and it was a workshop Joanne K. of the Commack Public Library has never forgotten. “A librarian who attends Anne’s presentation on February 3rd will never forget it either,” Joanne said at the Dream Big meeting on January 17th.

If you work in a Suffolk County library, please register for Anne’s program online or by contacting SCLS Youth Services. If possible, please bring a handkerchief with you to the program. In the meantime, check out Anne’s books, which cover the whole spectrum of storytelling, from techniques and presentation ideas to history and research.

An Opportunity Too Good to Pass Up

The USBBY Bridge to Understanding Award Committee seeks to identify and honor innovative programs that use children’s literature as a way to promote international understanding, and libraries are eligible for this award. Does your library program promote “reading as a way to expand a child’s world”?

To learn more about the award, view information about past winners, and to access entry, criteria, and application forms, please visit the USBBY website. Or, you can contact Suffolk’s own Doris Gebel, president of USBBY, at the Northport-East Northport Library.

The award carries a monetary prize of $1000 and a certificate. The submission deadline for the next award is January 31, 2012.

Just in Time for Veteran’s Day

The Northport-East Northport Public Library has added another Backpack Storytime to their collection, this one designed especially for military families. According to the library’s website:

Each Backpack Storytime contains 3-4 books on a particular theme, a music CD, manipulatives such as puppets and puzzles, and suggested enrichment activities.  Designed for children ages 3 and up, Backpack Storytimes circulate for seven days.  Families can borrow one at a time. (Read more about the Backpack Storytimes here.)

As Veteran’s Day approached, librarians Liz and Janet rushed to get the backpacks ready to circulate. They used free material they found on the Zero to Three website and, and books they found in Coming Together Around Military Families®, a kit designed by Zero to Three. Two-sided handouts include information that is hard to find elsewhere, such as specialized advice to parents who frequently relocate with babies and toddlers and families who have to renegotiate daily routines after a deployed parent returns home. 

“I was surprised at how much was out there,” Doris Gebel said.

Several of the items came to the library as a donation from the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, NY in appreciation of the recognition the library gives to Veterans. The Library has created a U.S. Military Coupon Booklet in recognition of the nation’s military

Whether you are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Military (including the
Reserves and National Guard) you and your family members can obtain this coupon booklet. The booklet provides discount coupons for the Library Cafe, photocopies,
programs, bus trips, overdue fines, and other Library services. Just come to the Circulation Desk at either library building.

The coupon book and other military familiy-friendly inititaives were spear-headed by Michelle Vagner and the Community Services Library Staff. 

The Northport-East Northport Public Library received a Coming Together Around Military Families® kit from Dorinda Silver Williams at Zero to Three, and has kindly shared it with SCLS. If you work at a Suffolk library and would like to borrow the kit to review its contents (posters, handouts, and board books specially designed for military families) please contact the SCLS Youth Services office. If you have questions about the Backpack Storytimes, please contact the Youth and Parent Services department of the Northport-East Northport Library.

Peace the World Together with Children’s Books

Nearly 250 librarians, authors, professors, publishers, and students gathered at California State University at Fresno for the 9th Regional IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Conference this past weekend. The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) hosts the IBBY Regional Conference every other year at a site in the United States. USBBY Executive Director Ellis Vance reported that there were representatives from 30 states and 6 continents at this event celebrating international children’s literature. Fresno State – home of the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature – made an ideal setting for the gathering. The Nixon Center’s special exhibit “Down the Rabbit Hole with Lewis Carroll and Leonard Weisgard: Literary, Visual, and Sculptural Translations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was the icing on the cake.

The theme of the conference was Peace the World Together with Children’s Books. Some of the featured speakers were Pam Muñoz Ryan, Margarita Engle, Grace Lin and her editor Alvina Ling, Adwoa Badoe (pictured right), David Diaz, Roger Mello (a talented and prolific illustrator from Brazil), and Dorothy Briley lecturer Beverley Naidoo. Mary Lois Nicholls, retired children’s librarian from Smithtown, Anne Pellowski, K.T. Horning, Nina Lindsay, and Michael Cart were just a few of the well-known participants present from our field.

On Saturday morning, the group broke out into book discussion sessions featuring the books of the guess speakers. I particularly enjoyed discussing Between Sisters by Adwoa Badoe. When storyteller Badoe addressed the group, she treated us to a tale about why fisherman always sing the same peculiar folk song. On Saturday afternoon I sat in on a session led by the previous and current chairs of the Outstanding International Books Committee, Elizabeth Poe and Kathy East. The two chairs book-talked twenty-two books from the 2010 and 2011 lists that pertained to five themes: fleeing oppression, surviving adversity, forging friendships, finding family, and creating peace.

USBBY President Elect Doris Gebel (pictured here with Beverley Naidoo) presided over the awards ceremony on Saturday evening. One of the many people she introduced was long-time supporter of USBBY John Mason (Scholastic), who chaired the committee that selected Beverley Naidoo to give the Dorothy Briley lecture. Naidoo delivered her remarks – which included an homage to editor and publisher Dorothy Briley – in an arresting, almost hypnotizing voice. It was an unforgettable evening.

When Doris asked what my favorite part of the conference was, I was hard-pressed to answer. Hearing Grace Lin read from the first chapter of Starry River of the Sky, the companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, was certainly a high point, as was seeing the work of an illustrator as talented as Roger Mello (especially since his books are, regretfully, not available in the States). Margarita Engle’s story about her grandmother who lived her whole life believing she was “word blind” was heart-wrenching (Engle’s grandmother, who was dyslexic, is inspiration for the protagonist in Engle’s next book titled The Wild Book.) But my favorite part had to be hearing Kang Woo Hyon speak about the making of Peace Story, a collection of illustrated stories commissioned for NAMBOOK-010, the Nami Island Children’s Book Festival in Korea. Peace Story is available to Suffolk library staff from the SCLS Youth Services Review Collection.

The next USBBY conference will be in St. Louis, October 18-20, 2013. If you can’t wait that long, the next IBBY Congress is next August in London! To become a member, or for more information, visit the USBBY website or contact Doris at the Northport-East Northport Library.

(Photos taken by Junko Yokota)