Monday, October 27, 2014

Book of the Week

The Cat at the Wall

by Deborah Ellis

Published by Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2014
144 pages

ISBN: 978-1-55498-491-6

Ages 10-13

Set against Israeli-Palestinian tensions in the city of Bethlehem, Deborah Ellis skillfully connects the personal struggle to be a good person and do the right thing with the larger political conflict in an unusual, nuanced, and intriguing story. A stray cat that was once an American girl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, named Clare follows two Israeli soldiers into a Palestinian house where they’ve been told to spy on the neighborhood. The house looks like it was suddenly abandoned, but the cat senses a child is present, and eventually directs them to the hiding place of a mute, asthmatic Palestinian boy. As a girl, Clare was often cruel, caught in that spiral in which one unkind act leads to another, in which anything is easier than saying “I’m sorry” and admitting the hurt in her heart. Clare’s sixth grade teacher gave Clare the opportunity to reveal the best parts of herself, but Clare resisted mightily, and then an accident ended her life as a girl. Meanwhile, as Palestinian neighbors realize the Israeli soldiers are inside the house, the situation escalates and Clare the cat, still tinged with disdain, finds she cannot ignore the truths she knows about the people involved, and the chance to make a difference at one moment, in one place. Ellis exposes the tragedy of conflicts large and small while revealing moments of compassion and decency in hearts of characters facing chaos within themselves, and all around them.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, October 20, 2014

Viva Frida

 by Yuyi Morales

Photographed by Tim O'Meara

Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2014 


40 pages


ISBN: 978-1596436039


Ages 4-9

Yuyi Morales’s playful, lush, elegant, heartfelt picture book about artist Frida Kahlo concludes with an author’s note titled “My Frida Kahlo,” which begins: “When I think of Frida Kahlo, I think of orgullo, pride. Growing up in Mexico, I wanted to know more about this woman with her mustache and unibrow. Who was this artist who had unapologetically filled her paintings with old and new symbols of Mexican culture in order to tell her own story?” The note itself is an informative and loquacious conclusion to a work that is linguistically spare, visually complex, and emotionally rich and stirring. Morales’s illustrations combine photographs of three-dimensional tableaus she created featuring hand-crafted puppets representing factual elements of Kahlo’s life, including the child-friendly details of Kahlo’s pet deer and monkey, and paintings that reference Kahlo's own work, representing elements of her vivid creative life as expressed through her art. The bilingual text is a series of simple statements in Kahlo’s voice, which concludes, “I love / and create / and so / I live!”  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10-14 at 10:14

Here's what's happening at the CCBC this morning.

Reference Assistant Mary Ostrander is checking in new books. This is the time of year when we get boxes and boxes of books from the publishers. We never get tired of opening these boxes because we all enjoy seeing what's new.

Librarians and teachers are here from Amherst / Tomorrow River for book selection. They are our first book selection group in the new CCBC. And it looks like they have enough room to spread out, for a change.

Gigantic flowers from Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow are being installed on our glass wall.  This is a big undertaking and should take the better part of the day. It's going to be gorgeous!



Librarian Megan Schliesman is testing out the technology in preparation for a presentation of great new books for K-5 and a CCBC introduction she'll give to undergraduates in a Curriculum & Instruction class on Teaching Reading.

KT Horning is working on putting up a display on the history of the life-size Paul Bunyan print by Ed Emberley, which has been on the CCBC's walls (wherever they have been) since 1963.

We hope you'll visit soon!

Update at 2:30 pm:

The installation of the Lois Ehlert flowers is now complete. Here is the first bit you see as you see as you enter the CCBC:

Down the front corridor, there are some leave on the wall next to the display case, and around the corner, a complete burst of color:

The full rainbow of flowers:

¡Viva Yuyi!

There's a short interview with Yuyi Morales on the First Book blog in which she talks about how she got into children's book creation, and about her newest book, Viva Frida!. You can read it in English or in Spanish.

You can also check out her excellent YouTube video, Making Viva Frida.

Meanwhile, Yuyi's book from last year, Niño Wrestles the World, continues to find young fans. A Madison school librarian sent us this photo of her son, playing Niño by wearing his underwear on his head for his lucha mask. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book of the Week

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines

by Paul Fleischman

Published by Candlewick Press, 2014
208 pages
ISBN: 9780763675455

Age 13 and older

An informative and engaging book about the complexity and interconnectedness of environmental issues is also a phenomenal primer on critical thinking, human psychology, and how to become informed about and invested in the future of our planet. What happens when we don’t like what we’re hearing or reading about environmental issues? What happens when we are presented with factual information that challenges what we believe or think we know? How do we respond as individuals, and collectively? The book is divided into sections titled Noticing, Perception, Defense Mechanisms (e.g., denial, projection, regression), Systems (e.g., democracy, capitalism), Attitudes, and Eyes Abroad and Ahead. Using real-world examples, Paul Fleischman challenges readers to think about where information they are looking at or hearing comes from (follow the money), who has a vested interest in it (follow the money), and to learn how what to consider in evaluating what they are seeing, hearing or reading. He acknowledges that it can be hard to be optimistic about our environmental future, but becoming informed and engaged is a critical first step to rising to the challenge and collectively fighting for change.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Note: Paul Flieschman will deliver the Charlotte Zolotow Lecture in Madison on October 15.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book of the Week

El Deafo

by Cece Bell

Published by Amulet, 2014
248 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1020-9,

Ages 8-12

Cece Bell contracted meningitis at age four and lost her hearing. Once she started school she wore a Phonic Ear, a device that amplified her teachers’ voice through a microphone the teachers wore on a cord around the neck. Cece could not only hear what her teachers said in the classroom but also the teachers’ lounge and -- gasp! -- the bathroom. Feeling like she had a superpower, she secretly began to think of herself as a superhero she called “El Deafo” (turning a pejorative term on its ear, so to speak). The experience of not being able to hear (as when her Phonic Ear is sent off for repair after the gym teacher breaks it, or when the lights are turned off at a sleepover and she can’t lipread anymore) is strikingly depicted in the graphic novel format, whether the text is gradually fading, or dialogue bubbles are filled with sounds of gibberish (e.g., “WAH BESS MAH WAWA GAH ANDY! YOO GOOLA FA BERRY GAH BOOLA!” while watching The Andy Griffith Show without amplification). But the novel’s main focus is Cece’s deep desire to have a best friend as she goes through elementary school. She tries to assert herself when bossy Laura claims her; endures passive-aggressive Ginny, who insists on speak-ing slow-ly and loud-ly to Cece; and finally finds a kindred spirit in neighbor Martha. Cece’s friendship struggles are sometimes complicated by her hearing loss but also have a universal dimension that most children will recognize. Bell’s memoir is set against the vividly realized backdrop of 1970s culture (from the TV shows to food and fashion), and told with great humor and honesty. The characters are all drawn as rabbits, giving the book a quirky charm.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center