Category Archives: readers’ advisory

Jonathan Swift at 350

Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667. He’s best known in the world of children’s literature for Gulliver’s Travels (originally for adults). To find out more about him and the time in which he lived, you could check out The 18th Century: Artists, Writers, and Composers. You can also enjoy one of these adaptations of Gulliver’s story:

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Unabridged Playaway audiobook

Gulliver by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Riddell
The voyages of an eighteenth-century Englishman carry him to such strange places as Lilliput, where people are six inches tall, and Brobdingnag, a land peopled by giants. This adaptation is long but full of pictures and recommended for grades 3 and up.

Gulliver in Lilliput by Lisa Findlay
On a voyage in the South Seas, an Englishman finds himself shipwrecked in Lilliput, a land of people only six inches high. This one is in our collection of books for beginning readers.

Gulliver’s Travels by Martin Woodside
An abridged version of the voyages of an eighteenth-century Englishman that carry him to such strange places as Lilliput, where people are six inches tall, and Brobdingnag, a land peopled by giants. The Classic Starts series is suggested for ages 7 to 9.

Gulliver’s Travels by Nick Eliopulos
The voyages of an Englishman carry him to such strange places as Lilliput, where people are six inches tall; Brobdingnag, a land of giants; and a country ruled by horses. This Stepping Stone book is recommended for ages 6 to 9.

Gulliver’s Travels by James Dunbar
The voyages of an eighteenth-century Englishman carry him to such strange places as Lilliput, where people are six inches tall, and Brobdingnag, a land peopled by giants. Illustrated notes throughout the text explain the historical background of the story.

Gullifur’s Travels by Brad Strickland
When Joe learns a valuable lesson in judging basketball players by their size, Wishbone imagines himself as Lemuel Gulliver, a seventeenth-century ship’s surgeon who is shipwrecked in two strange lands. In one place, everyone is only a few inches tall. The other land is populated by giants. Suggested for ages 8 to 12.

Lilliput by Sam Gayton
Three-inch-tall Lily has been trapped in a bird cage for half of her life while her giant captor, Gulliver, writes a book about his travels but she finally escapes and, aided by a clockmaker’s apprentice and his friends, makes plans to leave London and return home to Lilliput. Inspired by Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travels.

Gulliver’s Travels: Gulliver’s Fun Pack
Jack Black plays a man shipwrecked on the island of Lilliput.

Gulliver’s Travels
Ted Danson plays Gulliver in a TV miniseries.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: A Graphic Novel adapted by Donald B. Lemke
Retold in graphic novel form, Lemuel Gulliver voyage takes him to the strange lands of Lilliput, where people are only six inches tall, and Brobdingnag, a land of giants. This version is available through eReadIllinois in English and Spanish.

Gulliver’s Travels, retold by John Malam
When Lemuel Gulliver is washed up on the distant shore of Lilliput, he becomes a giant among men. As his travels continue, Gulliver is dwarfed by the people of Brobdingnag and bewildered by the customs of the Laputians. Will Gulliver find the humanity he seeks in the Land of the Talking Horses? A retelling of Jonathan Swift’s story in graphic novel format.

Travel & Adventure by Seymour Reit
Three classic stories of travel and adventure from Bank Street Graphic Novels.

Wonderstruck is coming!

A new movie based on one of Brian Selznick’s books is out in limited release and will be opening more widely soon.

A previous adaptation of one of his books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, just made Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 25 Best Movie Adaptations of Classic Children’s Books. You can read about the making of the movie in The Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture.

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.