Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Books to Borrow … Books to Buy - Salute your local librarian, keeper of the stacks

May 7, 2007

hen I was a little girl, I used to ride my bicycle to the library. I loved walking down the long, narrow stacks of books, knowing that something special could be found in so many of the titles. I used to marvel at the library card in the back of each book, chronicling how many people had read that same book. Did they like it? Did it give them something of value?

I also liked my librarian, the lone sentinel in our little house of wisdom – the library. She was always helpful in guiding me to books that she thought I might like, and tended all the volumes with care – checking books in and out and making sure the books were returned to the right place so others could find them with ease.

I think it's important to recognize our librarians, the guardians of the books that provide us with so much. I'd like to extend a sincere note of thanks to every librarian out there. Without their careful tending of the contents of the library, we would all suffer. Librarians are an invaluable resource in our pursuit of pleasure, knowledge and understanding. Let them know you appreciate what they do. They deserve it.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli, Alfred A. Knopf, 186 pages

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 and older.

When Stargirl arrives at Mica High School, the student body is buzzing with questions. Why does she dress the way she does? Why does she have a pet rat, carry a ukulele, and sing "Happy Birthday" to people in the cafeteria (and how does she know it's their birthday, anyway?). And although Stargirl is completely different from anyone they've ever met, the students begin to like her and are propelled into a new school spirit they've never experienced.

But soon Stargirl's nonconformity begins to grate on a few of the student's nerves, and shortly thereafter the whole school shuns Stargirl for everything that makes her unconventional. They also shun her once-popular boyfriend, Leo, and in Leo's panic to make things "right," he urges Stargirl to change, to become "normal." Then one day, Stargirl simply disappears.

An emotional story about nonconformity, peer pressure, "popularity" and the thrill of first love, this story provides important lessons for adolescents on a variety of levels.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Aldrich Public Library, 6 Washington St., Barre

Library Director: Karen Lane

Children and Youth Services Librarian: Adrianne Scucces

Choices this week: "Youch, It Bites!" by Trevor Day; "What Would Joey Do?" by Jack Gantos; "In the Rain With Baby Duck" by Amy Hest

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking" by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen, Houghton Mifflin, 2007, 32 pages, $17.00 hardcover

Read aloud: age 6 – 7 and older.

Read yourself: age 8 and older.

In the Middle Ages, young orphaned Simon had a keen mind and was a quick learner. When he appeared at the door of a monastery, the Brothers took him in. Master scribe Brother William was put in charge of educating Simon, and taught Simon all about bookmaking.

Simon loved his job, and most of all he loved the illustrations that lined the margins of the books. Simon soon felt ready to be an illustrator himself, but before the monastery's father would allow that, he gave Simon an assignment. He told Simon that "to be an artist you must have both skill and vision… you must first demonstrate this ability … by capturing mice."

Perseverance, imagination, and slices of history combine to make this selection interesting and most satisfying.

"Coco Counts: A Little Chick's First Book of Numbers" by Sloane Tanen, photographed by Stefan Hagen, Bloomsbury, 2007, 22 pages, $6.95 board book

Read aloud: age 2 – 4.

Read yourself: age 7.

"If 1 chick is good, are 2 chicks much better? If 3 chicks are chilly, should 4 knit a sweater?" So begins this little learning book about numbers, boasting amusing text and funny photographs of fake fuzzy chicks doing all sorts of crazy things.

And don't miss the equally fun companion volume, "C is for Coco: A Little Chick's First Book of Letters" – also a 22-page board book for $6.95.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached via e-mail: kendal@sunlink.net.

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