Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Do Waldo, Little Red Riding Hood, and Captain Underpants Have in Common?

They are all characters in children's books that have been challenged or banned. You can add Mickey from Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen to the list. And the penguins in And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. The list goes on. You may be surprised at some of the childrens' picture and chapter books that you'll find.

You can take this "Bookish Quiz" (thanks to 100 Scope Notes) and test your knowledge about banned and challenged books in the U.S.

And celebrate the freedom to read!

Monday, September 27, 2010

So You Signed Up to be the Library Parent at Your Child's School...

What's Next? That's exactly right!

What's Next? Booklists for Children and Teens is a one-stop resource created by Arlington Public Library youth services librarians available on the web.

You can find PDFs of our recommended graded reading lists and preschool lists.We have new and featured lists, including beginning readers lists, new chapter books for kids, new picture books, and our monthly featured titles lists.

You can also find subject guides to picture books for young readers and kids chapter books.

So if you're the "library parent" for your child's preschool or elementary school and need animal books you can browse the animals lists or type, say, "elephants" in the search box to come up with a list of picture books and nonfiction books about elephants. So easy to use!

A couple of things to remember: The titles are simply lists of books by subject. What's Next? is and will always be a work in progress. We are constantly adding new subjects and titles. (We welcome suggestions if you have them!)

We are working to further divide the subject categories by age/grade to better help you find just the right book for your young readers.

So, please go to, take a look around and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Video: Introducing Ook & Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future

Fans of the Captain Underpants series will welcome the second graphic novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins (with help from Dav Pilkey.)

It's called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future and it is filled with the same slightly subversive, head-slapping humor that legions of young readers adore.

Fair warning for parents: There is mild cartoon violence (they are kung-fu cavemen, after all.) The humor is juvenile--no question about that. George and Harold continue to have trouble spelling correctly throughout the book. A good example of all of the above is Flip-O-Rama #7: Regergitation Animation (you can use your imagination.)

That said, Dav Pilkey's books have engaged and inspired hordes of formerly reluctant readers and he encourages children to draw and write their own stories. Check out his website with fair warning that it "contains scenes and material too silly for adults, small animals, and many varieties of houseplants."

And you can take a look at the trailer for The Adventures of Ook and Gluk.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Video: How to Make Simple Puppets with Jim Henson

Nico, one of our youth services librarians, came upon this old video of Jim Henson creating puppets for children from simple items from around the house. It's amazing what he does with a tennis ball, a piece of cloth, and a marker.

We also have some great books to help inspire you and your children. Here are a few:
Making Shadow Puppets by Jill Bryant
Finger Folk by Marilyn Lohnes
Puppet Tales by Valerie Marsh

Now enjoy the video!

60's Flasback: Books for Middle Readers

It seems there has been a mini-explosion recently of excellent and engaging books about the 1960s for young readers. Here are a few favorites.

Set in 1968, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia follows three young girls whose father puts them on a plane from New York to Oakland, CA to spend a month with their mother who left them years earlier. Cecile is a poet consumed by her craft and curiously detached from her daughters. She sends them out each morning to eat breakfast and participate in a youth program set up by the Black Panther Party, with instructions to stay away all day so she can write and not be bothered by them. Eleven-year-old Delphine, the oldest sister, is one of the most resilient and endearing characters I've come across in a long time. She steers herself and her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, through a volatile and emotional landscape with strength, dignity, and a flowering maturity. This beautifully written book brings alive a time, a place, and events that defined a generation. It is sure to capture young readers from grades 4 through 7.

My Life with the Lincolns by Gale Brandeis takes place in 1966. Perceived coincidences and an overactive imagination lead 12-year-old Mina Edelman to believe that she and her family are the Lincoln family reincarnated--yes, that Lincoln family. So she must protect them all from what fate delivered to the original Lincolns. When she and her father become involved in the Chicago Freedom Movement, Mina's perspective begins to change as she struggles to make sense of the issues of the day: Vietnam, social injustice, and civil rights. Serious issues from a serious time, but Mina's fresh voice is interspersed with wit and humor. Brandeis captures the time perfectly. Be warned that there is some racially derogatory language that reflects the reality of the time. For 5th -7th graders.

Countdown by Debbie Wiles is a mashup of a book, a "docu-novel" if you will, and the first in the planned "Sixties Trilogy." Eleven-year-old Franny lives with her family in suburban Maryland near Andrews Air Force Base. It is 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis is escalating. Snippets from songs and speeches, newspaper advertisements and articles, photographs, and more are interspersed throughout the narrative and give the reader a direct sense of what it felt like to live through the time. Franny deals with talk of the Cold War, fallout shelters and "duck and cover," while also navigating the ups and downs of family life and growing up. Another wonderful book for readers in grades 5-7.

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon is for slightly older readers, from grades 6 and up. Also set in that volatile year, 1968, in Chicago, 14-year-old Sam has grown up absorbing the lessons of nonviolence imparted by his father, a civil rights icon who works closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. After learning of Dr. King's assassination and witnessing other acts of brutality (which are graphically depicted,) Sam's older brother, Stick, joins the Black Panthers. Sam's struggles to integrate the lessons from his father with the message of the militant Black Panther movement that his brother espouses are gripping and powerful. An author's note provides more historical context for the reader.