Children's Book Week

Children’s Book Week is next week, November 12-18.  Their website offers all sorts of great items for promoting your special children’s programs for the week.  Not doing any?  Well maybe in May you will have more time.  Children’s Book Week moves to May starting next year, so you get another chance to have great children’s book programs in on May 12-18. 

Anyone have plans for some great programs they would like to share?  Most of us probably couldn’t get them off the ground fast enough to copy, but perhaps we can use them in May!

The Busy Little Squirrel

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri.

Follow the busy day of a small squirrel preparing for winter in this charming picture book.  As he gathers food, squirrel rushes past all kinds of other animals, giving children a chance to make all kinds of animal sounds.  The refrain of “He was so busy” carries through the book, inviting toddlers to repeat the phrase again and again. 

This is a lovely autumn book by a wonderful author of picture books.  Tafuri knows how to create a book that will both interest small children and welcome them in.  The illustrations are large, bold and full of action and color.  Each page has just a few lines of text, meaning that the pictures will move by at the speed of a running squirrel.  

With the repetition in the text, animal noises and great art, this book is highly recommended for use in toddler story times or for preschoolers with short attention spans. 

Book of a Thousand Days

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.

I have heard wonderful things about this book for months, so the minute I got it I moved it to the top of my reading pile.  (This is why I never seem to get to those down at the bottom.)  It did not disappoint!

Dashti and her mistress, Lady Saren, are locked in a tower together for seven years because Lady Saren refuses to wed a man she hates.  Dashti is a mucker girl, a girl used to a nomadic life on the steppes.  Luckily, she knows how to write and creates a diary of their time in the tower.  Lady Saren slowly grows more and more strange as the time passes, and Dashti tries to cure her with her healing songs but it doesn’t help.  Cold, rats and spoiling food fill their days except for the ones where the outside world intrudes.  It is when Lady Saren’s suitor comes to visit the tower that Dashti truly comes to life.  She plays the part of her mistress with him and they form a friendly bond.  But then he leaves and doesn’t return despite his promises.  In fact, after a visit from the suitor that Lady Saren hates, no one at all comes to their tower not even the guards posted there by Saren’s father. 

Hale has managed to make a gripping story of imprisonment, primarily due to the enchanting voice of Dashti, a down-to-earth girl who finds herself as a lady’s maid despite the poverty she came from.  Dashti is a heroine with a clear voice, level head and plenty of bravery and resourcefulness.  She is nicely contrasted against the weakness and wealth of Lady Saren, who could have been a very cardboard character but also provides a welcome depth and interesting story. 

It is the writing here that really shines.  It is evocative, universal and yet stays friendly and easy to read. 

Highly recommended for teen readers who enjoyed Hale’s previous books.  I would also recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy featuring strong female characters, such as those who read Tamora Pierce.