It's that time of year. Time to think about a costume. You can drag out that tired old black cape and plastic vampire fangs... again. Or you can try for something different. Looking for fresh costume ideas? Books for youth can be a source of inspiration. Check out these creative costumes and the books that inspired them.
There are many clever homemade ideas here. Don't miss the pink Darth Vader. Pair it with the new picture book Are You Scared Darth Vader for a eye-popping ensemble. Dog Man and Frida Kahlo costumes are easy to put together. The plain blue dress with stars and a planet headpiece for Miss Frizzle is perfect for the DYI designer who wants a more detailed outfit.
With a little bit of imagination, costumes can also celebrate the joy of reading.
For those who have a loyal loving canine companion. For those who remember a dog who brought joy and contentment during a difficult time. For those who long for a dog but are unable to have a special pet of one’s own. For the vast community of dog lovers.
Two books to remind you of just why you love your dog.
Good Dog by Cori Doerrfeld
In the course of her travels, her beloved teddy bear gets left behind. It's up to the dog to rescue the soft-sided little plaything and return it to its rightful owner. Sweet story, right? But here's the interesting twist. The entire tale is told with only two words per page. The text consists of the word dog, preceded by an adjective. Initial pages set the scene. "Stray dog.” “Lost dog." "Lonely dog." Progressively, the dog becomes "Hopeful dog.” and "Smart dog." Eventually the canine earns the title "Rescue dog. “and the ultimate appellation "Good dog."
Cori Doerrfeld's full-page illustrations enhance the story, offering heart-warming visual insights. For example: I love the "Thoughtful dog." who constructions a shelter from a discarded pizza box to protect the tiny stuffed bear.
The brilliance of this book is in the clever use of adjectives to describe the dog while simultaneously advancing the storyline. Winsome illustrations bring warmth and tenderness to every page. Good Dog is brimming with puppy love.
Uncorrected copy provided by publisher.
Pub date: August 7, 2018 Publisher: HarperCollins ISBN: 978-0062662866
My Dog Laughs by Rachel Isadora
The book is divided into six sections: I Meet My Dog, Getting to Know My Dog, I Train My Dog, Going Out With My Dog, My Dog Plays, and I Love My Dog. Within each section, readers meet a variety of dogs and their owners. While the children, canines, personalities, and circumstances vary, the bond between animal and child shines through in every image. Isadora gives each dog a distinct personality. The facial expressions of both pet and owners are priceless.
My Dog Laughs captures the close and personal relationship between dog and owner. At the same time, Isadora conveys the universal experience of sharing one's life with a dog. Dog lovers know this. That's the heart of this book.
Uncorrected copy provided by publisher.
Pub date: August 21, 2018 Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books ISBN: 978-0399173851
Opportunities for Dog Lovers
Consider opportunities to assist animal shelters by organizing a pet supplies drive. Contact local organizations including food banks and animal shelters such as Humane Society centers for basic donation information. Teens pictured here collected used clean blankets and towels. They donated them to a local shelter.
Monster School by Kate Coombs ill Lee Gatlin
School is in Session
This would make an engaging activity for middle grade students. After reading Monster School, students could select verses to share with younger students. Construct puppets to match the characters in the poem. Then design a creepy-looking school backdrop and prepare for a spook-tacular performance. Tweens sharing poetry with younger students doubles the book’s potential audience.
Went a bit overboard on the freckles. The text specifically mentions twelve freckles on the face. I think the marker took possession of my hand and I couldn't stop. Googly eyes provide the finishing touch to the faces. Wooden skewer sticks were glued to the back of each figure. For safety, cut or sand off the pointed end of the stick before using. These puppets are fun to make and easy to manipulate
Consider these suggestions: “Steve the Loser" would be a terrific showstopper, with body parts falling off. Maybe secure the appendages with tiny Velcro dots for easy removal. “Fernanda Kabul” poem would be another fun puppet performance. As Fernanda casts her spells, substitute the student character puppet for a puppet resembling the hexed character.
So many possibilities. So much fun!
Copy provided by publisher.
Pub date: August 28, 2018 Publisher: Chronicle Books ISBN: 978-1452129389
In Praise of Board Games
"I can't remember the last time I played a board game." Magda pulled a rack toward her and shook the bag of letters. Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.
"It's a lost art," Charlotte said. She sat down too.
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Pub date: May 1, 2018 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends ISBN: 978-1250166623
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
Pub date: April 10, 2018 Publisher: Greenwillow Book ISBN: 978-0062414182
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Pub date: January 31, 2017 Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Book ISBN: 978-0545870740
Sunny by Jason Reynolds
Pub date: April 10, 2018 Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 978-1481450218
El día de los niños
"Hooray! Today is our day, ¡El día de los niños!"
"¡Viva! Hoy es nuestro día. El día de los niños!"
Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis by Charise Mericle Harper
Take note. There will be a CRAFT-MERGENCY; plenty of drama from Anya; a healthy snack "another way of saying it's good for you and tastes bad" which, by the way, is enjoyed by everyone; and an important lesson learned about friendship.
Back pages include directions for making each of the six monster crafts described in the text. With great characters, clever dialog, and simple craft projects, Charise Mericle Harper has a created a graphic novel series for young craft and comic enthusiasts.
Come With Me by Holly M.McGhee ill Pascal Lamaître
Come With Me: New York City
Several years ago I worked at a school in Manhattan's Lower East Side. I loved that neighborhood, filled with mamas and papas walking their little ones to school. I loved the rich diversity of cultures. I loved the strong family ethic. This is a community of people who live and work together. I loved the feeling of neighborhood and connection that I experienced whenever I stepped off the F Train at Delancey and Essex Streets.
My memories of that place awakened in me a sense of nostalgia as I savored McGhee's simple text and Lamaître muted color palette. It's a story filled with warmth and compassion. Each page provides plenty of white space, allowing time to appreciate the softly rendered drawings. While my time in the Lower East Side enriched my appreciation for the story, this picture book also rekindled memories of my time with that community. I compared photos of New York City life with Lamaître's illustrations. Each representation, regardless of the medium, portrays a strong sense of home, community, and interconnection.
"The girl and her papa were brave and kind, and that day they won a tiny battle over fear"
"They rode the train through the tunnels underground"
"They went to their grocery to buy some things for dinner -"
"One step at a time, they understood what they could do to make the world a better place. They could go on."
Come With Me: South Texas Coast
Now I live on the coast in South Texas, an environment that is both different and the same when compared to the neighborhoods I knew in Manhattan. The temperatures and coastal waters are much warmer. There are many more open and undeveloped land areas as well as some very distinctive types of vegetation. But in both New York and South Texas I can experience everyday encounters with kindness and courage.
Discover life in the city with these books.
Bob's Rock by Ann and John Hassett
In Bob's Rock our young friend leaves the cozy confines of his bedcovers and ventures outside and onto the playground with his friend Max. Each boy brings a companion: Max has a dog. Bob carries his rock. A amiable competition ensues as each tries to prove that his sidekick is the better of the two. On command, which one will "Sit" "Stay" "Rollover"? Readers will quickly realize what is happening. Anyone who has experienced the frustration of a pet refusing to perform when directed can relate to Max's dilemma.
The simple text with controlled vocabulary makes this an excellent choice for emergent readers. But the gentle word play and charming characters will appeal to a wide-ranging audience. Thanks Ann and John Hassett for another wining book for young readers. More Bob stories please.
Rocks & Rocks
Message on a Rock
Want more picture books featuring rocks? Try out one of these delightful tales.
Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten
She manages to locate Lint Bear within the tumbling clothes. PinchnSqueeze becomes convinced that he is alive and she commences a series of torture-like operations, certain that she can bring the doll to life.
Lint Boy is determined to rescue his friend from the clutches of this evil woman. He sets out on his noble task with assistance from the captive dolls and battalion of lost socks. Armed with courage and a very sharp needle Lint Boy succeeds.
The book's design and page layout have a unique style that is a visual treat. There is a art nouveau feel to the text and image arrangement as well as to the individual panel shapes and ornamentation. Soft pastels fit nicely with the sweet fabric characters.
There are just enough chilling details to make the villain truly evil. But the fanciful setting and the charming characters keep the story well within the realm of fantasy. Lint Boy is destined to enjoy a prosperous life on bookshelves everywhere. Thank you Aileen Leijten for this delightful graphic novel gem.
Creating with Lint
Okay, I couldn't resist. Creating with lint is an entirely new craft concept for me. I consider lint as merely a fluffy amalgam of fiber that needs to be removed from the dryer. Can this really be the basis for a craft? Not one to shrink from taking on a new creative challenge, I reasoned that lint has been through a wash cycle and the heat of the dryer. It must be clean enough to work with. Let's do this!
Viola! Meet my version of Lint Boy (thank you white bathroom mats lint) and Lint Bear (thank you casual clothes lint). They were so fun and easy to make. However, for a group project I would suggest forgoing lint and using old mismatched socks. They work well with the story. Cut the clean discarded socks up and assemble your own Lint Buddies using buttons, scraps of felt, thread and a glue gun.
Dolls That Will Creep You Out: Just the right amount of horror for younger readers
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Hales' anxiety over the situation begins to manifest itself with increasing stomach aches and repetitive coping mechanisms. She also grapples with a complicated sibling relationship. Shannon eventually decides to leave "the group." Later she finds new friends who accept and appreciate her.
LeUyen Pham's realistic style is reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier. It is revealing to observe the progresion of changes as Shannon grows from a child into a middle school student. Dark panels are particularly effective in invoking the gloomy periods in Hales' young life.
Anyone who has felt different, been excluded, or questioned their self-worth will identify with Shannon Hales' personal journey to find herself and discover her Real Friends.
Let's Be Friends
Raina, Shannon, Astrid, Abby, and Jun: I absolutely adore each and every main character in this selection of graphic novels featuring girls in middle grades. They are more than characters in books. They are real girls with real life issues. While my specific circumstances may have been a bit different, I can relate to the desire to find a place among like-minded peers: to be valued and included within a circle of friends.
Below is a book display featuring some of these middle school protagonists.
I used a paper doll template, available with a variety of hair and skin tones. It can be downloaded free from Kiki & Company. With a wee bit of paper scraps and markers I created an arrangement featuring some of these young heroines.
Get ready for an onslaught of book requests and obtain multiple copies of each title. This Middle Grade Girl Up display will send these graphic novels to flying off the shelves and into the hearts of young readers everywhere.
Taking a second look at friendship bracelets, a story element in Chiggers:
by Victoria Jamieson
Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole until... Astrid falls in love with roller derby and Nicole decides that she loves dance. Can their friendship survive their markedly different interests?
by Hope Larson
Abby is back at summer camp. But it's not the same. Her friend Rose is a cabin assistant. The new girl Shasta is different from the others. Can Abby built a friendship with this unusual girl?
by Raina Telgemeier
Life changes for Raina when she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. She must endure a long and painful series of dental procedures as she navigates the bewildering world of middle school. Will she ever smile again?
I like talking about books and interesting ideas. I like thinking about how books affect my life. Not particularly interested in giving out stars or in rating books.
Audio Publishers Association
2013, - present Audies judge
American Library Association Book Awards and Lists
2017 YALSA Award Nominating Committee
2016 Excellence in Nonfiction
2014 Margaret Edwards Award
2012 Odyssey Awards.
2009, 2010, 2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.