Tag Archives: authors

Two Great Authors

April 23 is a day for remembering two great authors, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.  They both died 400 years ago on this day.  People mark the day in different ways around the world.  In Spain, it’s a romantic holiday when women give men books and men give women roses.  The United Nations observes both English Language Day and World Book and Copyright Day.  Readers in different parts of the world also celebrate World Book Night on this night by giving away books, especially to people who don’t usually read.

Here are a few options for enjoying both writers with young readers:

Don Quixote and the Windmills retold and adapted by Eric A. Kimmel; from The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; pictures by Leonard Everett Fisher
“Immersed in tales of knights and dragons and sorcerers and damsels in distress, Señor Quexada proclaims himself a knight and sets out on his first adventure against some nearby windmills that he thinks are giants.”

Don Quixote retold by Martin Jenkins; illustrated by Chris Riddell
“An illustrated retelling of the exploits of an idealistic Spanish country gentleman and his shrewd squire who set out, as knights of old, to search for adventure, right wrongs, and punish evil.”

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Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon
This story of a tiny robot and his sidekick is quietly dedicated to “Don Q. and Sancho P.”

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The Walls of Cartagena by Julia Durango
A teenaged boy who loves Don Quixote has his own experiences with heroism working with a fellow Cervantes fan and St. Peter Claver.

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The Chosen Prince by Diane Stanley
“Prince Alexos, the long-awaited champion of the goddess Athene, follows the course of his destiny through war and loss and a deadly confrontation with his enemy to its end: shipwreck on a magical, fog-shrouded island. There he meets the unforgettable Aria and faces the greatest challenge of his life. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest”– Provided by publisher.

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The Orchard Book of Classic Shakespeare Verse
A selection of verse and poetry by William Shakespeare, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark.

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Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave by Deron R. Hicks
“Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford has a serious mystery on her hands. Will she discover the link between her family’s literary legacy and Shakespeares tomb before it’s too late?”– Provided by publisher.

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Shakespeare’s Secret
by Elise Broach
“Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.”  This title is also available as an audiobook on CD.

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The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue presents Macbeth written by Ian Lendler; art by Zack Giallongo; colors by Alisa Harris; [originally] written by Willy Shakespeare
The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo… until the gates shut at night. That’s when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they’ve got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails” — from publisher’s web site.

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The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
by Erin Dionne
Hamlet‘s attempts to be a “normal” eighth grader become increasingly difficult when her genius seven-year-old sister and her eccentric Shakespeare scholar parents both begin to attend her school. ”

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The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
“During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in.”  This title is also available as an audiobook on CD or Playaway, and as an ebook to download from eRead Illinois.

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Wicked Will by Bailey MacDonald
“Performing in the English town of Stratford-on-Avon in 1576, a young actress (disguised as a boy) and a local lad named Will Shakespeare uncover a murder mystery.”

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You Wouldn’t Want to be a Shakespearean Actor!  Some Roles You Might Not Want to Play written by Jacqueline Morley; illustrated by David Antram; created and designed by David Salariya
Another in the continuing series about times and places in history that you can be glad you’re only reading out.



Happy 100th, Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary is turning 100! She’s been in the news a lot the past few days:

Here’s a feature from Chicago:

This piece from NPR has some lovely photos of the author and drawings of her characters:

And this video from the Washington Post features messages from other children’s authors:

Be sure to check out our display for books about Ramona, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, and more of this author’s favorite characters.

Picture Book Biographies: Book Lovers

The people in this latest round of books come from different eras, but something they have in common is the value they placed on knowledge and the power in their words.

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim; illustrated by Bryan Collier (his illustrations for Trombone Shorty received an honor and an award this year)
“Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true.”–Amazon.com.

Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life by David A. Adler
When, in 1879, a bust in his likeness was placed at the University of Rochester, Frederick Douglass wrote: “Incidents of this character do much amaze me. It is not, however, the height to which I have risen, but the depth from which I have come that amazes me.” This biography tells the story of his ascent from slavery.

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by London Ladd
“Shares the life of the abolitionist, including his life as a slave, how he learned to read even though it was illegal for him to do so, and his work speaking out against slavery.” – (Baker & Taylor)

Howard Thurman’s Great Hope by Kai Jackson Issa; illustrated by Arthur L. Dawson
“A biography of Reverend Howard Thurman, who overcame adversity in his youth to pursue his dream of education and ultimately become a renowned African American theologian and civil rights leader”–Provided by publisher.

A Man for All Seasons: The Life of George Washington Carver by Stephen Krensky; paintings by Wil Clay
Profiles the African American scientist George Washington Carver, who not only put the peanut on the map, but was also one of the first advocates of recycling.

Nikki Grimes by Jill C. Wheeler
A study of the life of African American poet Nikki Grimes.  (You can find a variety of picture books, chapter books, and poetry books by Nikki Grimes in the children’s collection.)

Phillis’s Big Test by Catherine Clinton; illustrated by Sean Qualls
“In 1773, Phillis Wheatley, who used the power of words to change her life, published a book of poetry, but, because she was a slave, was forced to take a test to prove that she was the actual author of these poems.” – (Baker & Taylor)

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
“In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time, though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.” – (Peachtree Pub Ltd)

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade; illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
“Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students, but no school, Booker set out to build his own school–brick by brick”– Provided by publisher.

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by James E. Ransome
Words Set Me Free is the inspiring story of young Frederick Douglass’s path to freedom through reading”– Provided by publisher.  This title is also available as an ebook.
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Drop-in Storytime Saturday

7215562148_64276a439e_mPhoto by Kara Melissa Sharp

Do you love The Pigeon?  How about Elephant and Piggie?  We will be reading stories by Mo Willems when we get together in our Storytime Room on Saturday 1/30/16 at 11:00 a.m.till 11:30 a.m.

 All ages, preschoolers with an adult. Drop in until the limit of the room is reached.

Remembering Vera B. Williams

I only just found out that the author and illustrator of one of my favorite books ever, A Chair for My Mother, passed away in October.

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Reading some obituaries for Vera B. Williams, I found out that the story is based in part on something that happened in her own family.



A Chair for My Mother came out in the early eighties, when I was a preschooler.  I think part of what made a big impression on me was the bright, colorful illustrations (I remember my mother pointing out the Caldecott Honor medal on the cover and telling me that meant it had won an award for especially beautiful pictures).

I remember the idea of a house fire made a big impression on me.  When I was explaining where my imaginary friend had come from, I told my parents he was at our house because there had been a fire at his house.

I was excited when I found out there was a second story about Rosa, Something Special for Me.  I didn’t find out about many of her other books until I became a librarian, but I enjoyed the episode of Reading Rainbow that featured Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe.

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“More More More” Said the Baby is a favorite that I learned about as an adult.  We own it in both English and Spanish.  It’s a picture book that shows three babies being cuddly with their grown-ups.  This title also won a Caldecott honor.

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Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart is a book that has received lots of praise as a sensitive depiction of children coping with having a parent in jail.   This, too, appears to have been based on the author’s own experiences.

Scooter takes us out of the picture book section and into the chapter books, where a girl is making friends in a new neighborhood.  Each chapter features an acrostic poem and memorable characters.

These are just a couple of examples of Vera B. Williams’ work.  I encourage you to check them out!


Zora Neale Hurston at 125

January 7 marked 125 years since author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston was born.  You can sample her work, read about her life, and even find her in works of fiction:

Roy Makes a Car by Mary E. Lyons; based on a story collected by Zora Neale Hurston, illustrated by Terry Widener
Roy Tyle, the best mechanic in the state of Florida, can clean spark plugs by just looking at them, and he takes a two-dollar bet that he can make an accident-proof car.

The Skull Talks Back  collected by Zora Neale Hurston; adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
A collection of six scary stories for middle grade readers

The Three Witches collected by Zora Neale Hurston; adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Faith Ringgold.
Three hungry witches set out to eat two orphaned children while their grandmother is away at the market.

Zora!  The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
Read the story of the author’s life, including her childhood, her role in the Harlem Renaissance, photographs, and excerpts from her letters.

A Song for Harlem by Patricia C. McKissack
In the summer of 1928, Lilly Belle Turner of Smyrna, Tennessee, participates in a young author’s writing program, taught by Zora Neale Hurston and hosted by A’Lelia Walker in her Harlem teahouse at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.  Part of the historical fiction series Scraps of Time

Zora and Me
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending.  Winner of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award

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Waiting for your copy?


Enjoy this article about author Kevin Henkes and his lovely new book, Waiting: