Tag Archives: authors

Thoreau investigations

You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.

 

 

 

This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:

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Henry David’s House shares selections from Walden alongside beautiful illustrations. Singing America includes two of his poems in a collection with works by other authors.

There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes

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The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).

It’s not too different in theme from

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The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.

Moving into the modern day, we have

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Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over lifes biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.

Kids who love humor might prefer

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!

 

Jean Fritz

 

We recently got the news about the death of another favorite author, Jean Fritz. I read biographies she had written while I was in grade school (such as Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? and Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?). We studied a more recent title, Around the World in a Hundred Years, in library school. Her most recent book was Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider. Reading the obituary, she would have been about 95 years old when it was published.

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.

Will Eisner at 100

Will Eisner Week is an annual celebration promoting graphic novel literacy, free speech, and the legacy of Will Eisner, the revered comic artist and writer (1917-2005).  His work began during the Golden Age of Comics with the creation of characters including Uncle Sam, Sheena Queen of The Jungle, Black Hawk, and his most famous iconic character, The Spirit.  Throughout his career, he was determined to demonstrate what the medium he loved could accomplish, calling his first serious book format comic in 1978 a graphic novel, and then popularizing the format by writing 19 more.

Two of his works for younger readers are adaptations of classic stories in a comics format:

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The Last Knight: An introduction to Don Quixote by Miquel de Cervantes
by Will Eisner

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Moby Dick by Herman Melville
adapted by Will Eisner

Will Eisner’s name also graces the comic industry’s Eisner Awards, which includes categories for

  • Best Title for Younger Readers/Best Comics Publication for a Younger Audience
  • Best Publication for Kids
  • Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
  • Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)

The library owns lots of these award winners; give them a look!

Remembering a poet

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A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay by Krystyna Poray Goddu

125 years ago, in 1892, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.  2017 also marks 100 years since her first book of poetry was published.  She is especially remembered for her love poems for adults, but a few of her works are included in our children’s poetry collections.

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A Family of Poems includes “First Fig” (which starts with the famous line, “My candle burns at both ends”) and “Second Fig” (neither of which is about figs).

Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems includes “From a Very Little Sphinx.”

Singing America: Poems that Define a Nation includes “Counting Out Rhyme,” which describes trees in lyrical language.

The poem of hers I remember best is The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, which I first read in high school when I was just learning to play the harp.

 

 

 

Quick Pick: The Tree in the Courtyard

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The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty

“The tree in the courtyard was a horse chestnut. Her leaves were green stars; her flowers foaming cones of white and pink. Seagulls flocked to her shade. She spread roots and reached skyward in peace.

“The tree watched a little girl, who played and laughed and wrote in a diary. When strangers invaded the city and warplanes roared overhead, the tree watched the girl peek out of the curtained window of the annex. It watched as she and her family were taken away—and when her father returned after the war, alone.

“The tree died the summer Anne Frank would have turned eighty-one, but its seeds and saplings have been planted around the world as a symbol of peace. Its story, and Anne’s story, are beautifully told and illustrated in this powerful picture book.” -Random House

Tu Bi-Shevat (also spelled Tu Bishvat or Tu B’Shevat) is a Jewish holiday sometimes called the New Year of the Trees or “Jewish Arbor Day.” This year it begins at sundown on February 10. It is a time to appreciate trees (and plant them, if you live where the climate is right at this time of year). You can click on links above to see other stories and information about the holiday in our collection.