Bernard Waber, creator of the beloved Lyle the Crocodile picture books, has died

Bernard Waber, who turned his commercial graphic arts training into a successful career as a children's book author and illustrator, died May 16th.

Waber, a World War II veteran and devoted movie buff, first introduced Lyle the lovable crocodile in his 1962 book, The House on East 88th Street. In this fanciful, gentle, funny story, the Primm family discovers Lyle hanging out in the bathtub of their Upper East Side brownstone. Lyle made several more appearances, including in Lyle Finds His Mother (1974) and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965). His final Lyle book, Lyle Walks the Dog: A Counting Book (2010), was a collaboration with his daughter Paulis Waber.

While most of Waber's books involved whimsical illustrations of animals -- The Mouse that Snored and the delightful A Lion Named Shirley Williamson (1996) -- Waber also had a gift for using human subjects to zero in on and allay common childhood anxieties. In Ira Sleeps Over (1972), little Ira frets about whether or not he can bring his teddy bear to a sleepover. In 2002, Waber published Courage in response to September 11th. He had started it before the attacks, but added firemen and police officers to his examples of people, both ordinary and extraordinary, who exhibit courage every day.

Waber forever endeared himself to book and movie lovers when he said that the way he endured frequent relocations as a child was to seek reassurance from his parents that wherever they moved, a library and movie theater would be close by. "...The Library and cinema were life-giving urgencies, a survival kit for any new neighborhood."

Waber, who was 91, died at his home in Long Island.

Let’s Listen to a Story, Pardner

If you’ve got a hankering for life on a ranch, then you might enjoy these audiobook tales.

For the youngest cowpokes, there’s Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, a series of short friendship stories about a young cowgirl and her horse. It's a 2006 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award nominee. The series continues with Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Partners, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: School Days, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Rain or Shine, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Horse in the House, and Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies.

Slightly older buckaroos may also enjoy the adventures of Hank the Cowdog, who acts as the Head of Security at his ranch. You can listen to Hank’s hilarious adventures in The Case of the Tender Cheeping Chickies, The Case of the Monkey Burglar, The Case of the Booby-Trapped Pickup, The Case of the Most Ancient Bone, The Case of the Blazing Sky and The Quest for the Great White Quail.

The Adventures of Theater Kids

From the gregarious Glee kids to the harmonious horde of High School Musical, kids these days love their theater! And it’s not just on TV or in music. Check out one of these great books and read about awful auditions, big solos that bring the house down, backstage drama and pursuing your dreams! There’s no business like show business!

Better Nate Than Ever – Unbeknownst to his parents, Nate skips school and runs off to the Big Apple to audition for a fabulous role in E.T. The Musical. Will Nate be the next big Broadway star, or will his parents catch him and drag him back to his mundane small town life?

Starring Jules (as herself) – Jules can’t wait to be on TV! She has an audition for a mouthwash commercial, but everything keeps going wrong! Can Jules land the part, and also befriend the new girl?

Drama – Callie is the stage manager for this year’s big musical, and she is committed to making it the best one the school has ever produced. Enter, the twins, stage right. Justin and Jesse both have amazing voices, as well as a knack for getting Callie into confusing romantic entanglements. What’s a young theater professional to do?!?

Jim Gill Workshop for Anyone Who Has Young Children or Works with Young Children

What a rare opportunity for anyone who has small children in the family or teachers and caregivers who work with small children. Jim Gill is coming to Ann Arbor to give a workshop and a family concert.
The workshop will be at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at the Downtown Library. The concert will follow at 7:00 p.m. At the workshop he will talk about how music plays such an important part in children's development. You will learn a lot but you'll also be entertained.
A Jim Gill family concert is fun for the whole family.
Don't miss these great events that are a part of our Children's Book Week celebration.

Scaredy Squirrel and Chester (two flawed but hilarious characters)

Have you ever planned for a vacation or a birthday party only to have nothing go as you expected? Well Scaredy Squirrel knows just how you feel.

Scaredy Squirrel has many fears. Just to name a few, he is afraid of germs, walruses, bunnies, beavers, Godzilla, pirates, sea monsters, falling coconuts, and biters (anything that may bite him). In order to do what he wants Scaredy Squirrel develops elaborate plans that will help him avoid all of his fears. But when things don't go according to his plans, Scaredy Squirrel is forced to face his fears and realize that there was not anything to be scared of in the first place.

If you enjoy Scaredy Squirrel, you might also want to check out Mélanie Watt’s other books, like Chester.

Chester is a cat who loves to be the center of attention and the best way he can do this is to insert himself into stories that Mélanie writes. With his trusty red marker, he quickly hijacks the stories and becomes the main character in Chester, Chester’s Back, and Chester’s Masterpiece. The plots turn increasingly frantic and comical as both Mélanie and Chester fight for the power to write the story.

Parenting Lecture: Why It's OK Not to Share

Are you ready to rethink long-standing parenting practices? Author Heather Shumaker has defined 29 "renegade rules" for parenting young children, drawing on her own experience raising two young children as well as the work of child psychologists, educators, and neuroscientists.

Heather Shumaker is the author of It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids, which was named a Best Parenting Book of 2012 by Parents magazine, and is a northern Michigan bestseller. Salon.com called it "an insightful, sensible and compassionate book full of downright revolutionary ideas."

She is a speaker, journalist, blogger and advocate for free play and no homework for young children. She’s been featured on Fox & Friends TV, Huffington Post, New York Post, Parenting, Parents.com, USA Weekend, Wisconsin Public Radio and other media.

Join us at the Pittsfield Branch at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 21 for Heather Shumaker's talk, and be prepared to change your mind! This event includes a book signing, and copies of It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids will be available for purchase.

Oh, No!

Written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann, the picture book Oh, No! has the most gorgeous illustrations... and the story is sweet, too! It tells the tale of a group of jungle animals who one by one fall in a deep, dark hole and can’t get out! Then along comes tiger. Will he save them? Oh, no! -- He’s a hungry tiger! Then how will the animals ever get out? With repeating text and a fine bunch of animals, kids and adults will lap it up.

Tiny Toon Adventures

“We’re tiny, we’re toony, we’re all a little loony…”

So begins the theme song for the quintessential 90’s cartoon classic Tiny Toon Adventures. Featuring youthful versions of the arguably more famous Loony Tunes characters, Tiny Toons follows the wacky antics of Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation), Plucky Duck, Hampton Pig, and a slew of other characters during their time studying at Acme Looniversity and on their various misadventures.

Full of wacky humor, celebrity impressions, and brilliant music videos, Tiny Toon Adventures is sure to please new child audiences and the nostalgic adults!

The picture book Woolbur has won the 2013 Michigan Reads! Award

The 2013 Michigan Reads! title has been announced! The award goes to the picture book Woolbur, written by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Lee Harper.

Woolbur is a unique story about a young sheep who is not afraid to be himself! Some of his antics include running with the dogs and dying his wool blue! His mom and dad are worried about him at first, but his grandparents tell them not to worry. In the end, the other sheep start to see the beauty in Woolbur’s creative ways and realize it is not so bad to live outside the box of a “normal” sheep life.

Helakoski, originally from Louisiana, is a graduate of Northern Michigan University and currently resides in southwest Michigan near Kalamazoo. Her picture book Big Chickens also won the Michigan Reads! Award for 2007.

The Michigan Reads! One State, One Children's Book program “focuses on the importance of reading and sharing books with children, especially toddlers through early elementary, and the vital role libraries play in providing access to the quality books, programs and services that lay the foundation for reading and school success.”

Betty Bunny is a handful!

Betty Bunny, the main character in the series of children’s books by Michael Kaplan, is a handful! Her parents tell her she’s a handful all the time, and because they love her so much Betty assumes being a handful is a very good thing! And really, it is! In Kaplan’s first book, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, the spirited little hopper falls hard for this yummy dessert! So much so that she cries, “I’m going to marry it!” Her love for chocolate cake is so great that she puts a piece in her pocket and takes it to school! Thus starts the beginning of Betty’s lesson on learning patience. In Kaplan’s second book, Betty Bunny Wants Everything, little Betty learns the hard lesson that you can’t always get what you want. While shopping with her mother and siblings Betty is allowed to pick out one toy. However, Betty is not going for that plan and quickly fills the shopping cart to the brim. It is only after being dragged out of the store kicking and screaming that Betty learns bad behavior will end in great disappointment. Kaplan hits another home run in his third book, Betty Bunny Didn't Do It. In this book Betty is caught lying to her parents about a broken lamp and sent up to her room. She’ll have you laughing out loud with her outlandish tale of how the tooth fairy is the one responsible for the damage.
All three books touch on lessons every child encounters and are great resources for parents to address naughty behavior. Together, with illustrator Stephane Jorisch, Kaplan paints a picture of a young hip bunny family dealing with the daily challenges of living with a handful named Betty Bunny. The stories and art are fresh and contemporary and create a whimsical world that leaves you wanting more!

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