Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!

It’s FestiFools weekend in Ann Arbor and today is the BIG robot costume making workshop for tomorrow’s spectacle on Main St.! So of course some of us have robots on the mind around here. You may have heard some wonderful robot stories told at storytimes the past few weeks. Here is a darling new bedtime book that’s a new favorite robot picture book.

In Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep a little boy is trying to get his robots to go to sleep, but they come up with every excuse as to why they can’t. (Sounds a bit like putting kids to bed!) “Three little robots, time for bed, Time to dim your infrared.” The rhyming text, adorable pictures, and ROBOTS will have kids wanting to read this over and over at bedtime. If you're still feelin' the bots the next morning, here is a handy list of even more robot books.

Free High Quality Preschool!

Children who attend a high quality program in the year or two before kindergarten are better prepared for school academically, socially and emotionally.The Washtenaw County Quality Preschool Partnership is a collaboration of school districts and community-based providers who offer state (GSRP) and federally (Head Start) funded preschool services for low to moderate income families. There are preschool locations throughout the County with a wide range of classroom schedules to meet varying stages of preschool development. Enrollment begins March 1, 2016. For enrollment information go to the links provided or call 1-800-777-2861.

A bear finds a piano in the woods....

The Bear and the Piano, by first-time author David Litchfield, is an adorable look at the life of a celebrity musician. When a bear finds a strange object in the woods, he isn’t sure what it is—though readers will of course, notice right away that it is a piano. He touches it experimentally, and is shocked at the sound that comes out! Over time, he teaches himself to play, and becomes a world-famous musician. Litchfield uses this charming story to explore the life of an actual musician. The necessity of “days and weeks and months and years” of practice, the wonder of fame coupled with the loneliness of leaving home, and the exhaustion of traveling and performing. The bear is worried that his friends back in the forest may have forgotten him but when he returns in his rumpled tuxedo, he finds that they have been eagerly following his career, rooting for him the whole way! And of course, it is always friends who are the best audience of all.

Publisher’s Weekly gave The Bear and the Piano a starred review, calling it a “tenderly moving story about embracing one’s potential while remembering one’s roots.” Put it on hold today!

The Night Gardener

Wow! The brand new children's book The Night Gardener is not only a beautiful story, but is stunningly illustrated as well. This is the first book by Canadian sibling duo The Fan Brothers (separately known as Terry and Eric). The book uses sparse language and large, intricate pictures to tell the story of a gray, gloomy town transformed by a mysterious figure known as "the night gardener." One morning, residents of Grimloch Lane wake up to find a large tree transformed into an owl topiary. The people are amazed! Who created this beautiful creature? When did he or she have time to do it? And why? Every night, more topiaries are created: elephants, rabbits, birds, and more. As the townspeople come together to admire the art each morning, their gloom starts to lift. They look forward to the day ahead, and to the people they will meet and talk to at the trees. One little boy in particular is fascinated by the topiaries, and when he stumbles upon the night gardener himself at work one night, his life is forever changed for the better.

This book--which would make a beautiful gift!--is truly one for readers of all ages, although little ones will be particularly fascinated by the wonderfully depicted transformed trees that grace nearly every page. I'm looking forward to whatever The Fan Brothers create next!

Who Done It?

That’s the name of a super cute new picture book! Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec does not feature a story, but a series of simple who questions and matching sets of illustrations where the reader figures out which image answers the question of who did a particular thing. It’s adorable! Some are pretty funny and kids will get a kick out of them. It’s a great book that further encourages children to use visual clues to help understand the world around them as well as gain insight into human emotion.

The Bear…

Benjamin Chaud has written and illustrated some lovely picture books for children! I really enjoyed The Bear’s Song, and the next adventures for bear in these new ones in the series are sweet as well.

They are large format with small nearly full-page illustrations, which is perfect for little ones to play “I Spy,” like in Where's Waldo, to follow along in the pictures while the words are read aloud to them. In The Bear’s Sea Escape Papa bear is looking for a place to hibernate and follows Baby Bear to a cruise ship, and winds up on a tropical island. In The Bear’s Surprise Little Bear searches for his father along a forest path that leads him to a mysterious cave, an exciting circus, and a family surprise.

They are all fun little adventure stories that keeps young readers entertained.

Caldecott and Newbery Youth Book Awards Announced!

Every year librarians, book lovers, publishers and book sellers look forward to the youth and teen book awards announced at the annual American Library Association conference. This year the awards were announced from Boston in a room filled with hundreds of insanely excited librarians - who gasp, groan and scream throughout the entire ceremony. The two oldest awards, and the most widely known are the Newbery and Caldecott awards.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Awarded annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The 2016 Caldecott winner is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick. Finding Winnie is an incredible account of the friendship and love shared between a soldier and the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Blackall beautifully interprets this multi-dimensional family story through her distinctive Chinese ink and watercolor art, capturing intimate and historical details perfect for a child’s eye.

Four books were chosen as Caldecott Honor titles:

Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes. Waiting delivers an intimate story of five figurines, each anticipating the wonder of everyday moments. Using rich brown lines and a soft pastel palette, Henkes invites young readers to slow down and explore a range of emotions in a world on a windowsill.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. In this biography in verse, Ekua Holmes’ illustrations provide children with an intensely visual encounter with Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer. The repetition of colors and motifs within the richly layered collage create complex images that capture Hamer’s power and bravery.

Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson and written by Matt de la Peña. Readers are transported, along with a young boy and his grandmother, on a journey through the city. Robinson’s illustrations, a colorful mix of acrylic paint and collage, feel both vintage and fresh. The diversity, vibrancy, and beauty of the urban setting are celebrated as CJ and Nana share meaningful moments together.

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The 2016 Newbery Medal Winner is Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. CJ’s journey with his Nana is not just a simple bus ride; it is a multi-sensory experience through which he discovers that beautiful music, nature and people surround him. CJ’s questions are familiar, and Nana answers him with gentle wisdom. Right up until their arrival at the last stop on Market Street, Nana guides CJ to become “a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

Three books were chosen as Newbery Honor titles:

The War that Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Bradley’s powerful plot, remarkably drawn characters and sparse language are outstanding components of this novel about courage, community and conviction.

Roller Girl, written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Astrid falls in love with roller derby and learns how to be tougher, stronger and fearless. Jamieson perfectly captures the highs and lows of growing up in this dynamic graphic novel.

Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This original fairytale intertwines with historical fiction to explore music and its power to save, heal and set free.

New Year, New Kids' Music at the AADL!

The AADL has an extensive music collection that we’re always adding to. Most recently, we’ve acquired tons of new music for kids! Here are some of our newest CDs:

Sundrops, by The Harmonica Pocket, features upbeat songs about nature and the outdoors. From singing in the sun to playing in puddles and chasing butterflies, this is a fun album to listen to during the winter when sun and butterflies are nowhere to be found! A particularly cool thing about Sundrops is that The Harmonica Pocket play lots of different instruments, so kids will get to hear ukulele, harmonica, glockenspiel, and the sounds of other unique instruments along with the standard guitar, bass and drums.

I know I didn’t think that I needed any assistance in singing Disney tunes when I was younger, but for little ones who love singing Disney songs, Disney Karaoke Favorites is a cool CD to have. It features instrumental tracks of the most popular Disney songs so kids can sing along in their own voices, followed by the vocal version of the track with the movie characters singing the song. On the CD are “Circle of Life,” “Let It Go,” “Part of Your World,” and many other well-known favorites.

Beatles Baby! by popular children’s musician Caspar Babypants is a fun, kid-oriented take on the most popular Beatles songs. Caspar puts his own twist on hits like “Hey Jude,” “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and “Lady Madonna,” making them appropriate and silly. It’s fun for adults who recognize the true version of the songs to hear this CD, too.

Also newly added to our collection: Classics For Bedtime, featuring many lullaby piano sonatas, Smiles Ahead: Cool Music for Cool Families, an album with lots of different children’s artists playing their songs on it, and many new Kidz Bop albums.

Beyond the Birds and Bees

Do you know kids who are ready to learn about the facts of life, from preschoolers who want to know where their new baby sibling came from, to adolescents dealing with puberty and sex? We have two perfect books for you, both written by sex educator Cory Silverberg and beautifully illustrated by Fiona Smyth! With bright, cheerful illustrations, straightforward text, and true diversity, these books blow other sex and puberty books away.

What Makes a Baby is for younger children who are just learning about where babies come from. The book explains that sperm and an egg are needed to make a baby. What Makes a Baby uses precise language but leaves it up to the reader to explain where their little one came from. This leaves the book open for use by any kind of family- a refreshing change for families that are usually relegated to a footnote. The illustrations boast a wealth of different kinds of families and the book emphasizes the joy that a new baby brings.

When your kids start to wonder about puberty and sex, check out Sex is a Funny Word, which is as bright and cheerful as What Makes a Baby, but longer and more advanced. This book describes sex in completely inclusive language that relates to all orientations, genders, and gender identities. It also pulls in concepts like respect, trust, joy, and justice to explain how sex fits into a bigger picture of the world. Sex is a Funny Word explores puberty, body parts, safe and unsafe touch, crushes, and so much more! The text is completely nonjudgmental and incredibly diverse.

Simply put, these books are spectacular! Go check them out!

New Animal Picture Books

Do you like pretty picture books about animals that are filled with illustrations so gorgeous you can't stop staring? Here are two worth a view.

A Tower of Giraffes: Animals in Groups features simple information on different animals and what they are called while in a group. A scurry of squirrels, a mischief of mice, a romp of otters. The book is beyond beautiful and will delight both adults and children.

In The Bear Report a little girl ponders what there is to say about polar bears, and her answer is “nothing.” She is quickly corrected by a polar bear named Olafur who shows her the light, literally. They go off on an adventure North where he teaches her about where they live and how they spend their time. It’s a small, quiet book perfect for lap time with the little ones, and demonstrates how wonderful it is when you look at something up close to admire it.

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