Category Archives: News

Remembering James Stevenson

You might know the work of James Stevenson whether you are a child or a grown-up. He was a cartoonist at the New Yorker for many years. He also illustrated books for children, including his own stories and poetry, poetry by Jack Prelutsky, and stories about “The Pain and the Great One” by Judy Blume. We would be happy to help you find his work in our collection or place a hold on titles available at another library.

Remembering Patricia McKissack

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We recently lost a much-honored author, Patricia McKissack. She was particularly known for writing about African American history (often collaborating with her husband), but her talent was wide-ranging and she also wrote realistic fiction, science fiction, picture books, beginning readers, religious works (she was an editor at Concordia Publishing House) and collections of folktales and traditional rhymes. We would be happy to help you find her books in our collection or place a hold on titles available from other libraries.

Illinois Award Winners

The winners of the Illinois Readers’ Choice Awards have been announced!

Monarch Award (Kindergarten-3rd Grade):

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Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A proper bulldog raised in a poodle family and a tough poodle raised in a bulldog family meet one day in the park.

Bluestem Award (Grades 3-5):

El Deafo
El Deafo by Cece Bell
The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”

Rebecca Caudill Award (Grades 4-8):

The Crossover
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. A novel written in poetry.

African American History, Library History

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Something unusual happened at the Youth Media Awards on Monday.  A single book, March: Book Three (written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell), won 4 major awards:

  • Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, recognizing an African-American author and of outstanding books for children and young adults
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children
  • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The book already won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in November.  You might have heard Representative John Lewis give an emotional acceptance speech, in which he recalled “I remember in 1956 when I was 16 years old, going down to the public library, trying to get library cards, and we were told that the libraries were whites-only and not for coloreds…To come here and receive this award — it’s too much.”

The history of library services for African Americans has included both exclusion and inclusion.  Here are some books (for a slightly younger audience than March) that help tell the story:

Finding Lincoln
Finding Lincoln by Ann Malaspina
In segregated 1950s Alabama, Louis cannot use the public library to research a class assignment, but one of the librarians lets him in after hours and helps him find the book that he needs. Includes an author’s note with historical information about library segregation in the South.

Goin' Somplace Special
Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack
In segregated Nashville during the 1950s, a young African American girl endures a series of indignities and obstacles to get to the public library, one of the few integrated places in the city.

Richard Wright and the Library Card
Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller (also available in Spanish)
Based on a scene from Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, in which the seventeen-year-old African-American borrows a white man’s library card and devours every book as a ticket to freedom.

Ron's Big Mission
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden
One summer day in 1959, nine-year-old Ron McNair, who dreams of becoming a pilot, walks into the Lake City, South Carolina public library and insists on checking out some books, despite the rule that only white people can have library cards. Includes facts about McNair, who grew up to be an astronaut.

Newbery and Caldecott Awards

Do I have a treat for you!

Do you love Studio Ghibli movies? How about Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking? It’s recently been announced that Amazon Prime will be offering a TV show at the end of this month based on Lindgren’s book Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter.

I think Ronia might be based a little bit on a character in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, too. Either one would be a great read while you wait for the show!

Remembering Joseph Medicine Crow

You may have seen the news yesterday about the death of Joseph Medicine Crow. He was described as “the Crow’s last war chief… an activist, an author, a Medal of Freedom recipient and a vital chronicler of the history of his tribe.” He fought in World War II and “heard stories of the Battle of Little Bighorn from people who were there.” He was the first Crow to earn a master’s degree (in anthropology), and became the tribal historian and anthropologist.

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Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond by Joseph Medicine Crow with Herman Viola

Couting Coup, one of his many books, won the 2008 American Indian Youth Literature Award.  Reviewers praised his autobiography for its “absorbing, humorous style” and as an “informative yet entertaining read” that “brings the past to life.”

Here are some other books available in our library system that he wrote or contributed to:

From the Heart of the Crow Country: The Crow Indians’ Own Stories by Joseph Medicine Crow (a book for adults)

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Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird story by Joe Medicine Crow; illustrations by Linda R. Martin

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The Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation by Paul Goble; foreword by Joe Medicine Crow

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Custer’s Last Battle: Red Hawk’s Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876 told & illustrated by Paul Goble; foreword by Joe Medicine Crow