Hello, Texas!

We’re here at the Texas Library Association’s 2016 conference and having a blast (now that the rain has stopped)! Among some of new finds you can make at Booth 1630 are both children’s and adult graphic novels from a variety of publishers, including TOON, Papercutz, Fantagraphics, and NBM. Thanks to Diamond Bookshelf and IDW, we also have the new-to-America–and we think an award-winner here as well as in Europe–Paracuellos, by Carlos Giménez, which earned him the Heritage Award at the Paracuellos1_revAngoulème Festival in 2010. This is a memoir about a place and period American readers rarely meet in books: life in an orphanage during Franco’s dictatorship over Spain.

COVERLAYOUT.inddNBM, a comics publisher with a long and deep track record of providing North Americans with literary graphic novels, is just now releasing Guardians of the Louvre, acclaimed manga artist Jirô Taniguchi’s beautiful and compelling fantasy that seamlessly twines together many of the treasures in the Paris museum, and its environs, with the experiences of a lonely young tourist from Japan. I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I opened its beautiful watercolor-reminiscent right to left layout pages and met the young man as he, in turn, meets a variety of great figures from art’s history, including a countryside chat with Van Gogh and a tour of World War II’s art rescue history with the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Pair this one with Anthony Doerr’s 2015 Alex Award winning All the Light We Cannot See to bring vivid life to art history.

We have many other comics and graphic novels for you as well! Come visit–oh, and you might want to enter to win a whole basket of beautiful goodies!

Welcome to Boston and #alamw16

ALA Jan 2016 20x2 banner

We’re traveling to Boston today and looking forward to seeing all of you attending the American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter meeting there!  You’ll find us at Booth 1917 in the Exhibits…and why would you want to find us? Because:

We’re bringing cool new picture books, comics, and books for older youth from a variety The_Boy_Who_Drew_Catsof quality publishers, including Pajama Press (Canada), Leminscaat (Netherlands), Gecko (New Zealand), Floris Books (Scotland), Karadi Tales (India), Udon Entertainment (Canada/Hong Kong), and, from the United States, Diamond, Tilbury House, Gannon & Wyatt, Namelos, No Starch, and Two Lions.

We’ve got audiobooks and audiobook programming information from Oasis, AudioFile Magazine, and the Audio Publishers Association’s literacy initiative, Sound Learning APA.

EMMA_SC_FRONT_Fin1We’re hosting signings by Rebecca Emberley, Bill Thomson, Licia Morelli and Jennifer E. Morris, and Susan Schwake.

We have a librarian staff who know books, audiobooks, and kids.

Plus, we are a lot of fun and generous, too…hmm, prizes anyone?

The Games You Can Play with Letters and Words

Enchanted Lion has published two extraordinarily engaging picture book stories that open up the magic of sorting letters into words.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.23.09 PMIn Take Away the A, Michael Escoffier’s text and Kris Di Giacomo’s gleeful cartoon animals and gentle monsters show us what magic the removal of a letter from any of a number of commonplace words does to alter meaning. Removing “Y” from “yours,” for example, makes it “ours.” Arranged alphabetically by the letter removed, each page spread has a simple sentence naming the letter to be removed from what word to create what new word. Often, the letter removed is internal to the word, rather than initiating it, making this a wonderful alphabet book for kids who think they are too old for alphabet books.

The author and illustrator team’s follow up alphabet book, Where’s the Baboon?, takes the game to a new level. Here, the book unfolds as a complete story and each page spread offers a question that can be answered by examining the illustration or seeingScreen Shot 2015-10-23 at 1.34.00 PM what new word is highlighted within the telling attribute ascribed to him or her. Again, it’s a passle of rambunctious animals  who are gambling through the pages: The correct response to “Who is hiding behind the castle?” appears within that final word of the question, printed so that the “c,” “a” and “t” are highlighted. (The illustration, on the other hand, presents a scene where all but the cat’s tail is obscured.) This one isn’t an alphabet book in the sense of touching on all 26 letters. Instead, it’s a book where playing with letters and words sheds both light and humor on how flexible the alphabet is.

We’re putting together some activities to help expand these delightful books even further, while helping young readers discover more ways to see the alphabet than as a string of letters. Watch for its arrival in a day or two on our Activities pages.

Take Away the A has already won lots of critical attention. We’re sure Where’s the Baboon? will as well. And we know both are hits with kids who are surprised by how much can happen to words on a page!

The Audie Awards and Sound Learning Update

Audie MedalWe had a wonderful time at Thursday night’s Audie Awards Gala, the premier event of the audiobook publishing world!  Among the winners of the evening’s Best Of the Year announcements is our good friend Live Oak Media’s H.O.R.S.E., that wonderful audiobook package that just keeps collecting trophies!  You can listen to a clip from it here to understand why it’s collected both the 2015 Odyssey Award and now the 2015 Audie Award for Children Up to Age 8 too!

Audiobooks are becoming increasingly–and deservedly–popular as means to access literary experiences.  With summer on the verge of arriving full strength, the Audio Publishers Association has also expanded its Sound Learning initiative with 37 new titles suggested for kids as great summer ear-reading. You can refer to that site, too, for information about the many connections between listening and literacy for readers of all ages.

So find those ear buds–or better yet, sit down with a child and listen together. Audiobooks are magic doors  for the imagination.





Update 29 April 2015:

We have now added an Educator’s Guide to Namaste! to our Book Based Activities page.

Ellen writes:

As the horrors of the earthquakes and avalanches of Nepal continue to be revealed, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty and heart of the country as it was before.

Steiner Books’ Namasté is now available in paperback. With a simple story by Diana Cohn and glorious art by Pura Belpré honoree Amy Córdova, it follows a young girl encountering the people in her village with a familiar greeting. “Namasté” is much more than something to say at the close of a yoga class: it is a recognition that each of us have a divine spark and that, together, those sparks can light up the world.prayer flags

Namasté provides a glimpse into a Nepalese village from a child’s perspective. Nima Sherpa’s father is a mountain guide and he loves to tell his daughter about his adventures on Chomolongma, a mountain we know as Mt. Everest. We see her father prepare to go to work as the family prays for his safety. In the book, Nima hopes that one day she can be a sherpa and help people from all over the world navigate the magnificent mountain that reaches through the clouds.

small namasteAs I looked through the book again, I found myself hoping that Nima Sherpa, and all children like her, did not follow in their sherpa fathers’ footsteps–that they are all safe in their villages, away from tumbling avalanches that wipe out everything in their paths. Yet, even those villages are rocked by the earthquake and its aftershocks. It is likely that the Nimas of the world, if they are still in the world, are to be found on every available grassy spot in Kathmandu. nimi's father

Even in the midst of the chaos and the devastation, I like to think of a small girl greeting those she encounters with “Namaste,” remembering her mother’s words that “When you say Namaste, try to see the special spark of light that shines within every person’s heart.” May that spark glow and strengthen in the difficult days to come.


by Diana Cohn, illustrate by Amy Córdova

Published by Steiner Books
Paperback, $9.95 (9781621480051)

Amautalik Identification

Does that sound like a scary new science to you? It may well be! Inhabit Media, our favorite Inuit publisher, has a new picture book available that’s stuffed full of scary stuff! You can share with readers five to seven all the gruesome facts about The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra–and then turn them loose to create helpful posters illustrating how to avoid being eaten by these Inuit folklore creatures! Jessica gives you all the tips you’ll need in our Book-based Activities section.

And if you want to expand the story, Inhabit also has some very short animated films to help stimulate the imagination regarding Tundra ogres.  Check out their site at Taqquit Productions for these multiple award winning films.

Take along some listening on Earth Day!

For many of us, it’s been a long winter. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to get outside, and what better activity than to listen to some Earth-celebrating audiobooks while you walk or sit and enjoy the spring scenery!

Live Oak Media has a lot to offer to fit this bill!  We can start with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, a true story picture book Readalong celebrating a basketball star’s second career as a farmer…and worms!

Or how about Deep in the Swamp, celebrating the Okefenokee marshland? Tom Chapin performs this one,as he does Out on the Prairie,featuring the animals and plants of South Dakota’s Badlands, another natural Earth delight to celebrate today.

There’s plenty more to choose among, including Tortuga in Trouble, an animal tale sure to stretch your imagination.

So, drop what you’re doing and go outside and listen!

Happy Earth Day from all of us!


On the Passage of Terry Pratchett

From Ellen Myrick

I remember vividly my first introduction to Terry Pratchett. I was at Ingram Library Services and had the idea to work with publishers to get authors to finish the sentence “A Library Is . . . ” so that we could put their responses on tee shirts and posters for conferences. Virginia Stanley of HarperCollins suggested Terry Pratchett. I found that he had sold millions of books in the UK and was growing in popularity in the US. I scored an ARC for his YA novel The Wee Free Men and fell in love.

And I was not the only one. I brought Terry Pratchett into my home, already filled with thousands of books, and he soon became The Official Favorite Author of the Myrick family. For years, I would visit fifth grade classes on Friday and (I hope) treat them to another chapter of Tiffany Aching’s travails and liberal doses of Pratchett’s wisdom and heart and humor. Not necessarily in that order.

Because that is what I love most about the works of Terry Pratchett. He delights in foibles but always treats his creations with kindness. Even his most ruthless villains are given a moment of reflection or redemption, often in a last conversation with Death.

So, as the endless ripples created by the floating Discworld continue stretching out into eternity, I am grateful that Terry Pratchett will always be a part of not just my reading life, but my very being. I venture into L-space with the Librarian, I blunder into bravery with Sam Vines, I open my eyes–and open them again–with Tiffany Aching, and I walk the silver sands with Death, because of one man’s words.

And I am grateful.

“A library is where I learned stuff–at school I just threw spitwads.” –Terry Pratchett

The little audiobook company that does…win Odyssey Awards, that is!

The Odyssey Award, a national distinction calling out superior audiobook production for youth, is just eight years old–and already Live Oak Media has walked away with the crown three times!  That’s truly remarkable, as this award is bestowed by an annually changing collaborative committee with members of both the Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), meaning that the the winner meets criteria adjudged by professionals who work with everyone through age 18.

While the Audie Awards are granted by the audiobook industry to its own–through a vetted process of independent judges–the Odyssey Award is handled by librarians and other library staff who work with children and teens, select audiobooks for large and small, public and school collections, and listen specifically for production excellence when selecting the award winner. For a production company where fewer than two dozen titles can be created a year, to walk off with the declaration of “best” so many times certainly says a lot about quality.

And the audiobook industry, especially for youthful listeners, is getting better and deeper all the time. So the competition is not only expanding in number but also in range.

Congratulations, Live Oak Media! You did it again!

PS You can hear a sound clip from this year’s Odyssey Award winner, H.O.R.S.E., here.

Acclaim from USBBY

The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) released its annual list during the opening of the 2015 Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. Among the books touted on the new list are several from our own publishers:

  • Gecko’s The Day My Father Became a Bush, written and illustrated by Joke Van Leeuwen
  • Pajama Press’ Graffiti Knight, by Karen Bass
  • Kids Can’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, by Chieri Uegaki and  illustrated by Qin Leng
  • Kids Can’s If…: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers, by David J. Smith, with illustrations by Steve Adams
  • Gecko’s My Heart Is Laughing, by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Eriksson
  • Lemniscaat’s Surprise, written and illustrated by Mies Van Hout
  • Inhabit Media’s Sweetest Kulu, by Celina Kalluk, with illustrations by Alexandria Neonakis