Category Archives: readers’ advisory

Virginia Lee Burton

Virginia Lee Burton was awarded the Caldecott Medal for The Little House (published 75 years ago today), but it’s not her most famous book. You can read more about her in this new biography:

Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by John Rocco
Desribes the life of the children’s book author and illustrator, conveying her life at Folly Cove, her love of dance, and how she was able to create images of machinery, including those used in her book, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.


What to do when kids are scared & worried

Here are a few tried-and-true books for kids and resources for parents to help deal with violence and upsetting news.

The Moon Came Down on Milk Street by Jean Gralley
You’ve probably seen a quote attributed to Mr. Rogers about his mom telling him, when he saw something scary, to “look for the helpers.” That’s this book in a nutshell, as firefighters and rescue dogs and other helpers put things right after a disaster.

Sometimes Bad Things Happen by Ellen Jackson
Mentions some of the bad things that happen in the world and presents some positive ways to respond to them.

And God Cried, Too: A Kid’s Book of Healing and Hope by Marc Gellman
The angel Gabriel helps Mikey, an angel-in-training, to understand why bad things happen for what seems to be no reason and how to hold on to hope and faith during difficult times.

What to Do When You’re Scared & Worried: A Guide for Kids by James J. Crist
This self-help guide has lots of practical and specific advice about how kids can handle their fears.

Someone also shared an article from PBS Parents that was new to me, How to Help Kids Feel Safe After Tragedy, which is a quick read and has simple, practical suggestions.

Heroes, artists and a little girl

The Hiding Game by Gwen Strauss, illustration by Herb Leonhard

The main heroes are two men: Varian Fry (sometimes called the American Schindler) and Danny Bénédite (the author’s great uncle). They are working to help refugees escaping from the Nazis.

The artists are some famous people you would study if you took a class on modern art: Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp.

The little girl is Aube, hiding with her father the poet and her mother the painter.

Younger readers can follow along from Aube’s point of view to see life in the safe house (a mixture of art games and spycraft, hunger and danger).

As she is escaping to safety, Aube remembers “how the artist Marcel Duchamp once visited the Villa with a small suitcase. When he opened it, there was a collection of all his favorite artworks, like a miniature museum.” You can see a box like this at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago.

In Chicago, you can also see art created by Chagall including the outdoor mosaic The Four Seasons and his America Windows at the Art Institute.




New in the World Languages Collection

New in Arabic

Arabic dict
Goodward Arabic Picture Dictionary for Kids by Saniyasnain Khan

New in Hindi


Hindi book 1



Bulabulī ke bām̐sa by Mīta Bordalōy

This book shows some of the ways a person can use bamboo.


by Ṭī. Āra Rājeśa
A bilingual book from the perspective of a bat.

Vipareet shabdh
Virodhi shabad
Concept & text by Sheetal Singhal; music by Eesha Bemra
This beginner book introduces opposites through English, Hindi, Punjabi and Gujarati (Due to editing errors in the Punjabi text, this edition of Opposites is NOT being promoted as a Punjabi language book). The read-along CD is a great tool to assist with proper pronunciation of all languages.

New in Urdu

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves retold by Enebor Attard
A poor woodcutter discovers the hidden treasures of a band of robbers, survives great danger, and brings riches to his whole family.

Bhore bhālo, bhore bhālo, tumhīn̲ kīā naẓar ārahā hai?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
by Bill Martin, Jr.
Introduces a rainbow of colors as seen through the eyes of various animals and the children who are looking at them. Presented in Urdu and English.

Buhat hī bhūkā kamlā
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
 by Eric Carle
The story of a very small and very hungry caterpillar. He eats foods all through the days of the week. He grows from a small egg to a beautiful butterfly… (in Urdu and English).

Updated resources for stressful situations


This seems like a good time to talk about stress. Last year, I thought to myself how unfair it was that teachers were looking for books to help small children understand lockdown practice while parents were still asking for The Kissing Hand to help those same kids handle being away from their families all day. This year I wonder how much children are noticing news about nuclear tensions or white supremacists.

I’ve shared some resources in the past, but since some of them have been replaced with newer materials I wanted to provide an updated list:

The American Psychological Association provides lots of resources on its website, on topics ranging from school readiness to how to talk to children about the news. If you’re looking for resources in the library, you might try subject headings like stress in children, stress management for children or stress management for teenagers. We also have a lot of books from Free Spirit Publishing, designed to “support young people’s social-emotional health and their educational needs.” You can find books I’ve recommended in the past here.

There is not a lot on contemporary nuclear issues in the children’s collection (you can find somewhat more for teens). The Nuclear Age and the accompanying information in the Freedom Flix database might be helpful. When I was in library school and there was another instance of heightened nuclear tensions in the news, a boy asked me for “books about bombs.” Asking some clarifying questions, I found that he was wondering if the world could really be destroyed by nuclear warfare. Something I sought out for myself at that time was the story “A Midnight Clear” by Katherine Paterson, included in The Big Book for Peace.

This brings me to Comforting Reads for Difficult Times, a recent list of books for children and teens and recommended resources for adults. The books are grouped by themes like Grief and Resilience. If you can’t find an item that you want, just let us know. The resources for adults include many online resources covering how to talk to children about “Difficult News and Tragedies,” the excellent Teaching Tolerance website with classroom resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and an online article about using books to discuss tough topics with young children.

They have also released a new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide which you can access for free online. This includes suggestions for how to respond in the face of hateful incidents, both on the community level (such as how to plan a safer counterdemonstration) and on the personal or family level (how to actively teach anti-bias to children). I previously shared resources on racism and anti-Semitism and extremism. Parents and teachers can find more advice by searching for subjects like Prejudices in Children, Race Awareness in ChildrenMulticultural Education, Children and Violence and Violence in Children.

I recently attended a conference that addressed some of these topics. As awkward as it can be for adults to talk about race, they emphasized that it is important because kids will come up with their own explanations in the absence of information. They provided a handout with some tips. A child might ask embarrassing questions, but you can help them learn respectful and scientifically accurate language. Some of us might have been taught an ideal of color-blindness, but the current thinking is that children notice differences in appearance and “it makes it weird when you ignore it.”

Another update to a resource I suggested in the past is a new parenting title:

My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children by Denene Miller
A New York Times best-selling author and the creator of the critically acclaimed blog My Brown Baby speaks to the experiences, joys, fears, sorrows and triumphs of African-American motherhood, from pregnancy and child-rearing to relationships and the politics of parenting black children.
This is a whole 18 years newer than the last book I was able to share on this topic!

I currently have some books on display in Children’s Services with titles from the “Comforting Reads” list and some related picks. We have a wide variety to offer, and we are ready to help you find what you need.




Can you figure out what these books have in common?

Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Jean & Mou-Sien Tseng
A retelling of the original Chinese poem in which a brave young girl masquerades as a boy and fights the Tartars in the Khan’s army.

I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by Anita Silvey
Explores the secret world of women Civil War soldiers, discussing who they were, why they went to war, how they managed their masquerade, their wartime experiences, and what happened to them afterwards.

Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges
A biography of the fifteenth-century peasant girl who led a French army to victory against the English.

My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier by Lynda Durrant
Enjoying the freedom afforded her while dressing as a boy in order to earn higher pay after emigrating from Ireland, Jennie Hodgers serves in the 95th Illinois Infantry as Private Albert Cashier, a Union soldier in the American Civil War.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix
A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Shark Week!

10 Fascinating Facts About Sharks by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack
Did you know that there are more than 500 species of shark? Or that they range in size from smaller than a ruler to longer than a bus? Those are just some of the fascinating tidbits kids will discover in 10 Fascinating Facts About Sharks.

Amazing Sharks by Steve Parker
Provides an overview of sharks, describing key characteristics of such species as the great white shark, blue shark, sand tiger shark, and whale shark.

Bow Wow by Spencer Quinn
Bowser the mutt lives with eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux and her grandmother in the normally quiet Louisiana bayou town of St. Roch, but news that a Bull shark has somehow made its way into the swamp has everyone excited, and the cash bounty for landing the shark has lured some very shady characters into town–one hunter in particular is prepared to go to any lengths to collect the money.

Deadliest Sharks by Melissa Abramovitz
Profiles some of the world’s deadliest sharks, including the spotted wobbegong, shortfin mako, and bull shark.

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams
A nonfiction picture book tracing the repercussions of what would happen if sharks disappeared from our planet.

Please Be Nice to Sharks: Fascinating Facts about the Ocean’s Most Misunderstood Creatures by Matt Weiss; photos by Matt Weiss & Daniel Botelho
A humorous book that humanizes the incredible, much-maligned shark through breathtaking underwater photography and incredible facts dispels many of the myths that have led to various shark species being hunted to extinction.

Sharkpedia by Nancy Ellwood and Margaret Parrish
Through hundreds of photographs, diagrams, maps, and illustrations, readers will learn where sharks lurk, what they eat, and why they do what they do, as well as hear from scientists and shark-attack survivors.

Sharks by Sarah Fowler
Get up close and personal with all kinds of sharks—from bullhead to cow to carpet sharks—and learn how to identify different types, which is strongest, and so much more with this exciting book full of amazing images, fun quizzes, and incredible information.

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures senior editor Carrie Lowe; photographer Ruth Jenkinson
Packed with fun activities, crafts, reading games, and amazing facts, kids can take a dive under the waves and meet all the colorful creatures beneath–from clown fish to starfish to jellyfish–in this educational project book.

Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown; illustrated by Bob Kolar
From the enormous whale shark to the legendary great white to the enigmatic goblin shark to the small cookie-cutter shark, Slickety Quick is a delightful frenzy of shark mayhem. … Sneaky shark facts ripple through each spread to further inform the brave and curious young reader intrigued by the power–and danger–of these amazing creatures.