Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Like You Went to the Woman's Club Lunch. A Roundup of Kids' Books from Jane (and One from Me).

Since we've opened, I've been speaking at a November luncheon at the Woman's Club of Wisconsin. We first jointly did the program with Next Chapter; previous to that, representatives from Harry W. Schwartz did the talk, though not me. I've done it alone sometimes, with another bookseller to sell books, but this year I teamed up with Boswellian Jane for the program.  I thought I'd offer a couple of highlights from the presentation of books for young readers.

Our friend Pat sets it up each year and we always sit at her table. One of her friends is Mary Kay, who now is at a school in Greendale, but many years ago, was a fellow bookseller, having worked at the Schwartz Bookshop in Brookfield and the Schwartz Book Nook in Whitefish Bay. There are usually some other family faces around. It's not like the Woman's Club is in another county; it's just about two miles away on Kilbourn Avenue.

I learned that Jane is a big fan of J. Hamilton Ray's Squirrels on Skis. I didn't even know they were still doing new "I Can Read" books, which I mostly associate with Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman. Why have squirrels invaded this particular town? Can reporter Sally Sue Breeze get to the bottom of the story? Between Pascal Lemaitre's antic illustrations and Jane's enthusiasm, it's hard not to be enthusiastic about this adventure, and the fact that there are lessons to be learned is a bonus, though don't tell that to your kids.

There aren't always great picks for kids in nonfiction, but I think we're particularly rich with bounty this year. The Animal Book, from Steve Jenkins, is a nice collection of facts, stories, and illustrations, and Jenkins is no slouch in illustration, having won a Caldecot Honor for What Do You Do with a Tail Like That?  The package reminds me a bit of the David Macaulay books like The Way Things Work, and coincidentally (or not), it's the same publisher.

If you want to ooh and ahh, you probably should take a peek at Maps, the beautiful oversized children's atlas from Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. Pick a country and you'll find intricate illustrations including not just the geography, but famous buildings, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and more. This is a book that screams "I won't be around in mid-December when you want me. Buy me now!"

In the "told ya so" department, Brian Floca is picking up accolades for Locomotive, that terrific picture book about building the trans-continental railroad. Teacher spotted this gem--our school events went incredibly well, but our public event, while enthusiastic, should have been bigger, especially because his presentation was great.

Artists, graphic designers, teachers, librarians, train enthusiasts--the market for this book goes well beyond kids. We've just spotted the title on The New York Times Best Illustrated Books for Children 2013.

Another author who visited Boswell last year has a new picture book. Patricia MacLachlan wrote and Steven Kellogg illustrated Snowflakes Fall, inspired by the children of the Sandy Hook school shooting. It's a lovely story about the world of snowflakes, and of course how each one is different, and how each child is different, with starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal. Here's a trailer about the book, including interviews with both MacLachlan and Kellogg.

"No two the same, all beautiful."

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