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!

Wild Swan Theater Presents Charlotte's Web

Balcony seats are still available for Saturday April 27 and Sunday April 28 to see Charlotte's Web staged by Wild Swan Theater. The show is for grades K-5. Location is Towsley Auditorium. From the Wild Swan website: "Charlotte’s Web is possibly the best loved of all American stories for children. Set in the rural Midwest, it tells the touching story of a rare friendship between a little pig, Wilbur, and Charlotte, a most uncommon spider. The magical words that Charlotte spins in her web not only earn Wilbur a county fair blue ribbon and save his life, but inspire all of us to value what we can share with each other." More information is here.

Another Stead Picture Book Collaboration

Bear Has a Story to Tell, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead, is a warm, wonderful story about patience and friendship that will delight young children and people of all ages who may want to read it aloud or over a young person's shoulder. The Steads are the Michigan duo that created A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. The books are companions in tone and style.

The lovely pencil and watercolor illustrations Bear Has a Story to Tell depict the changing natural landscape, as Bear tries to remember the tale he wants to tell his animal friends and they try to jog his memory. There are warm acts of kindness, giving the book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012, the feel of a classic likely to be read and shared by many future generations.

Audiobooks for Kids: Wildlife Adventures

Author Carl Hiaasen, born and raised in Southern Florida, spent his childhood amongst the mangrove swamps and freshwater lagoons that surrounded his home. In his books for kids, Florida’s wild places and wild animals take center stage. If you’re in the mood for a wildlife adventure, check out his audiobooks:

Chomp – Wahoo Crane and his classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find the difficult star of the reality television show “Expedition Survival” who went missing while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades. Read by James Van der Beek.

Scat – Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing. Read by Edward Asner.

Flush – With their father jailed for sinking a river boat, Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, must gather evidence that the owner of this floating casino is emptying his bilge tanks into the protected waters around their Florida Keys home. Read by Michael Welch.

Hoot – Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Read by Chad Lowe.

Frank Bank, aka Lumpy on Leave It to Beaver, has died

Frank Bank, who played Lumpy Rutherford in the popular 1950s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver, died yesterday.

In a role that today probably would not be played for laughs, Lumpy was a large overweight friend of Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow), Beaver's aka The Beav's (Jerry Mathers) older brother. Even then television made the connection between being bullied at home (Lumpy's father often berated him -- ("big oaf " and "big boob" were two favorite insults of Mr. R.'s)) and passing it on to the outside world (Lumpy often targeted The Beav).

In real life, Bank was a very successful California municipal bonds broker who was known for his generosity. He and another Beaver actor, Ken Osmond who forever immortalized the slimy suck-up to grown-ups, Eddie Haskell, raised lots of money for veterans' charities.

Mr. Banks died just one day after his 71st birthday.

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