I admire an author who writes a children’s book that works both as a great read-aloud while also appealing to youngsters just graduating from the easier beginning reader books. Local author Jamie Michalak has one such book with Frank and Bean.
In less than 50 pages and four short chapters we meet Frank, an introverted fellow who craves the peace and quiet required to write in his secret notebook, and Bean, who arrives on the scene with seemingly every instrument known to man. Not surprisingly, Frank (who if you haven’t already guessed is a frankfurter), is not happy about the intrusion. Bean (yes, the musical fruit) honks and toots and vrooms, loudly. (He’s also brought his motorcycle.) This is not auspicious for a workable relationship. And yet.
Bean is on a quest. And it turns out that Frank has the poetry that Bean is seeking to turn his (loud) musical musings into song. The humorous illustrations of Bob Kolar enhance this humorous yet warm story of the beginnings of friendship.
A sure winner with a gentle message.
By Nancy Kellner
Old Man of the Sea
By Stella Elia
Illustrated by Weberson Santiago
This beautiful picture book for ages 4-8, is the tale of a young boy who visits his grandfather in his room on Sunday afternoons. In the beginning, they just sit. Then, Grandpa tells his grandson the stories of the times he spent at sea. He tells his grandson about falling in love with Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania but how he always came back the beautiful calm blue ocean. Then, Grandpa found America and found true love and married and made a family. It ends with sage advice and lots of love. This Brazilian story is perfectly illustrated with watercolor on paper by Weberson Santiago, a noted illustrator. This is a great read-aloud.
The Benefits of Being an Octopus, by Ann Braden
The debut author, Ann Braden, is a middle school teacher in Vermont. Frustrated that there are books about urban youth and well off suburban teens, but there were so few books about struggling teens, she decided to write her own book about teens in Vermont. The result is a fantastic multilayered book! Zoey is a seventh grader, living in a trailer with her mother who works nights at a pizza place, her boyfriend, Lenny (and his father) and Zoey’s younger brother and sister. Zoey know her life would be easier if she were an octopus with eight arms who could get everything done with them. In her real life, she can’t get her homework done at night because she is too busy taking care of her brother and sister while her mother is at work. The trailer that her family lives in is Lenny’s and she and her mother try to make everything right so that Lenny is happy with them. When a teacher gets Zoey on the after school debate team,
she begins to think a bit more about what is going on around her and what she can do to change it for the better.
The whole atmosphere of this book is the real Vermont, with friction between the well-to-do middle class and the working poor and how neighbors can help each other. All the characters are very real and well done in a story with real tension. Terrific book!
Check out the StoryWalk our Outreach Librarian NANCY set up today! We love this book!
Red : A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall
Meet Red, a blue crayon covered in a bright red wrapper labeled (as expected) Red. Everyone expects him to behave red, whether it is to draw strawberries or hang out with yellow to make a “nice orange”. He tries, he really tries, but he just can’t. Because he’s not Red, he’s Blue. Skies and oceans are his thing. With help from a new friend he is able to realize his true color and find happiness in his own wrapper.
I love this book because it can be read on so many different levels. At its most basic it is just plain funny. But it is also a story of perseverance, friendship, acceptance and being true to yourself. -Nancy
Here is book display of our latest children’s books. So many possibilities for learning and new adventures! Take out as many as you’d like!