Friday, December 17, 2010

Stories without words, without borders


My friend is drawn to a book that has many words, which, by the way, he has absolutely no idea what the words, and sentences mean. He is three and a half. Anyway, he reads (rather he gazes at the pictures), so focused. I guess he is under the spell of the illustrations as he turns the pages, and unwritten stories unfold. I don’t dare interrupt him, but wonder what he is thinking, what he perceives, what he imagines. I should ask him what the story is about. Then he would tell me the story, the story only he can tell... Children enter the world of literature (or simply stories), not just by words, but also pictures that hold their eyes, and enchant them.

In Giora Carmi’s
A Circle of Friends, a boy goes to a bakery and gets a muffin for a treat. On his way back home, the boy sees a homeless man sleeping on a bench. He looks at his muffin, having taken only a few bites...hesitates, then leaves his muffin for the homeless man. The man wakes up, surprised, and happily eats the muffin. The man sees birds in a nest, and leaves some crumbs for them. The story goes on, the boy’s kindness brings unexpected, yet, joyful moments to the boy. The story is told in wordless pages, only through illustrations.


This wordless story can travel to any corner of the globe, beyond borders, beyond languages, as does kindness. Kindness, Giora Carmi whispers, goes beyond borders, whether between strangers or between people and animals. Then as the title says, we are all in a circle of friends, where miracles of kindness happen (or the law of kindness is discovered). The quiet kindness and sharing are the spirit of the holiday seasons that we remember most, and have our children grow with.

p.s. For little children, telling a story of a wordless picture book may not be an easy task at first. They need our interaction, and theatrical(?) help. Becoming a storyteller from a listener, I guess, is unknown to them, yet, an exciting experience for them. As it often happens with children who have imaginary friends, this experience will expand their vocabulary, and ability to form a narrative. I wonder how would the same wordless book be rendered in different cultures, let’s say, by a boy in New York or by a girl in Peru or in China? But all stories will be unique in their own way, the story that only the child can tell. Monroe County Public Library (Indiana) has compiled a list of the books without words.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweet and Gentle Bedtime Story, Good Night, Little Sea Otter


The sun is setting, so is Little Sea Otter in Mother’s arms. But he is not ready for bed yet. Perhaps, so much fun was his day-giggling, splashing, swimming, grooming and cuddling with his friends under the shining sun. Then he remembered he didn’t say good night to harbor seals. So he waves to the harbor seals, “Good night, harbor seals.” Then to sea lions, to orange fish, yellow fish, purple fish; to sea urchins, to sea stars, to clams and crabs. One by one, Little Sea Otter says “Good night,” to all his sea friends. Between the hubbub of good night exchanges, there are giggling moments. Now Little Sea Otter is ready for bed and sweet dreams, tucking himself into Mother’s warm chest. Mother Otter rolls kelp over them for the night’s long sleep. Wait, Little Sea Otter forgot to say good night to the twinkling stars and the moon. So he did.


In
Good Night Little Sea Otter, Janet Halfmann captures young children’s sweet and genuine nature that often comforts the grown-ups. When the story is ending, you would imagine the satisfying smile of a child, her eyes slowly closing, and the night’s peace would fall over her face.
The ocean, home to the most diversified creatures, the colourful fishes, sea mammals, and all sea creatures are illuminated in Wish Williams’s eloquent illustrations. Above all, Little Sea Otter, the furry sea mammal becomes irresistibly adorable.
The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection posted a review, recommending Good Night, Little Sea Otter to “anyone looking for the perfect bedtime story.”

Well, then, good night, Little Sea Otter. Sleep tight, Sweet dreams.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ernest H. Shepard, the Illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh

Ernest H. Shepard, who drew the magical lines that gave a shape, personality, mood and soul to the world of Christopher Robin-the forest, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Tiger, and of course, Winnie-the-pooh, was born on this very day (December 10), many years ago, precisely in 1879. Much blessing to all generations of children to come to befriend with the “silly old bear,” Winnie-the-Pooh, and growing up with him in his forest. Remember the way Pooh was coming downstairs?: “bump bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.” Or, the Pooh hanging high up on the branch to get honey from the bees. Or, Pooh that couldn’t get out of the Rabbit house after eating way to much honey and condensed milk. A week later, Christopher Robin and all animals in the forest had to come to pull him out of the Rabbit’s front door(hole). Or, how Christopher fixed Eeyore’s tail with a tiny nail that sticks out, that made mostly gloomy Eeyore so happy running in circles. So delicious! We all have our favorite moment of Pooh in action, don’t we?

E.H Shepard was born in London to a mother who was a daughter of a water-colorist, and to a father, an architect by profession, and an amateur actor. Rawle Knox, the author of The Works of E. H. Shepard (1980) wrote: “He was born, of imaginative parents, into a world which he found romantic almost as soon as he could use his eyes and ears.”
(His happy boyhood in the Victorian era was so well captured in his memoir Drawn from Memory (1957). No wonder how he could capture the mind of children, and their imaginations so well in his drawings. He reminisces of his boyhood in great detail, always paying close attention to the people he encountered. Knox wrote,“His tales, told in a rarely broken atmosphere of happiness, vividly describe an age, and yet say even more about the author.”).
After reputable St. Paul’s School, he went to the Royal Academy School, with a 3 year scholarship. He met his wife Florance there. They had son Graham, and daughter Mary. Graham’s teddy bear, “Glowler” became the model of Winnie-the-Pooh. When he was introduced to A.A.Milne for Mr. Milne’s works of verses (When We Were Very Young), Mr.Milne didn’t like Shepard’ drawings. He wanted someone on his level of reputation, perhaps. Well, but that soon changed, A.A.Milne even wished that Shepard’s drawings decorate his grave. Although Shepard was most known for his illustrations of A.A. Milne’s four books (When We Were Very Young 1924, Winnie-the-Pooh 1926, Now We Are Six 1927, The House of at Pooh Corner 1928), his works are beyond them: Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1930), and Richard Jefferies’s Bevis (1932), just name a few. Until his death in 1976, Shepard never stopped his delicious drawings for tales of children.

Many praised the works of Shepard.
“Master of line” Bevis Hillier, former editor of The Connoisseur.
“In When We Were Very Young, Ernest Shepard looks at children with the understanding sympathy and sense of humor and a recollection of his own childhood that make it possible for him to take a fair share in making this book.”
-Helen Cady Forbes "Delicious Sillies" in New York Herald Tribune Books, December. 14, 1924.
“Mr. Milne should go down on his knees every night and thank God for having sent him an illustrator so perfectly attuned to the spirit of his tasks as Mr. Shepard has proved himself.”
-NYT Book Review, October 23, 1927.

Well, it wouldn’t be necessary to what critics said about Shepard’s drawing. Let’s just get a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, or When We Were Very Young or anything by Shepard. And make yourself lost into his “lost and found” lines, and the world of children and forest animals.

Monday, August 30, 2010

As the last weeks of summer come and go, and the onset of Labour Day marks the last days of holiday for kids the length and breadth of America, Star Bright Books is continuing its blogging theme of 'Back to School.'

For many kids going to school is a daunting experience. Whether it be attending school for the very first time, or making the step up to either middle school or high school, kids become exposed to many new experiences and new people. Such experiences all serve to create great and inquisitive kids that will go on, hopefully, to become the future great generations of Americans. And to be American means to be part of a nation that is culturally and ethically diverse, a cosmopolitan nation set up to embrace all races and cultures in the melting pot. This helps Americans to be tuned into other world cultures and helps our kids understand the world around them.

In Layla's Head Scarf by Miriam Cohen, Layla is the new girl in school. She is hesitant on her first experiences of first grade as she feels out of place because of her head scarf. At the same time, her fellow first graders are curious and hesitant around her as they want to learn about her culture and about her head scarf. The story is one of growing friendship and compassion, as the first graders embrace Layla and each one learns something about the other. This makes everyone feel comfortable and shows how friendships are based on learning from one another.

Part of the We Love First Grade Series by Cohen, Layla's Head Scarf adds to the necessity to teach kids emotional learning skills to help them succeed in school. It also helps them to engage in issues that form a part of todays current global expansion as more and more places become culturally diverse.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy Summer Days

Morning Readers

Wherever you are in the world today I hope that it is much brighter and warmer than it is here in the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple. The weather over the past few days, since the weekend, has been nothing but wind and rain, and then more wind and rain. It feels more like Fall rather than Summer. And to think last weekend New York City was bathed in sunshine and a heat wave. How times change.

In such circumstances it makes it really difficult to find things to do outside. No one wants to get wet. Believe me. I walked into Star Bright Books this morning with my umbrella, but even that couldn't stop the rain from getting me all wet. It is days like today when all we need is a little bit of escapism. Something to take our mind away from the drizzle. A good book is just the thing that could do that, for both adults and kids alike.



Professor Noah's Spaceship is just one of those books. Brian Wildsmith takes the biblical story of Noah and his ark, and updates it for a 21st Century issue. As with the biblical account, every human and every animal and every creature lived happily in the environment, but in this account pollution has begun to destroy the food supply and the animals habitat. Fortunately Professor Noah (yes, he is a wise old man with a PhD now), has built a spaceship, and invites the animals to take off with him to find another world. For forty days and forty nights they roam space, until the guidance system goes into reverse. The intrepid travelers end up going back in time to Earth just after the Biblical Noah's flood, with Earth back to its pristine form. Capturing it all with his stunning illustrations, Brian Wildsmith's Professor Noah's Spaceship allows the imagination to escape for a moment, and addresses a very pressing issue in our time in a manner fit for children and adults alike.

Take Care

Sam

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friends At School

Dear Fellow Bloggers

In light of the recent departure of En-Szu back to college after all of her fabulous work, as a fellow intern I will be taking up the responsibility of keeping you informed of Star Bright's activities for the coming weeks and months.

So as it is getting close for many children to either return or maybe even start school for the first time, it may be of interest to you that Star Bright Books has a selection of books that may help children with first day nerves.

Friends At School by Rochelle Bunnett is a picture book for children that details the real life stories of 8 school children, as well as their class Guinea Pig called Mocha, and a pair of tortoises called Sam and Sara. It goes on to display the activities that they get up to together inside and outside of the classroom.



The real photographs taken by Matt Brown help capture the children and the fun things they get up to. From feeding Mocha carrots, to playing with jigsaw puzzles, to enjoying recess. Friends At School is the kind of book that parents can enjoy reading with their children, especially if they are worried about starting school for the first time

So check it out, it may prove a real treat for that nervy first timer. Or maybe even the odd anxious parent!

All the best

Sam

Friday, August 20, 2010

TTFN!

Dear Avid Blog Readers,

It is with great sadness that I inform you all that today is my last day as a summer intern here at Star Bright Books. It's been a fantastic summer - I've had so much fun getting acquainted with the ins and outs of publishing, as well as being introduced to the phenomenal books Star Bright publishes and getting to share them with you, my friends!

So as my farewell post (for now - you'll be hearing from me this fall and winter, I assure you!), I decided to treat you all to a special sneak peek - our upcoming title, Goodnight, Little Sea Otter!



Goodnight, Little Sea Otter is definitely my new favorite. A little otter and his mother say goodnight to the wonderful variety of underwater creatures who live in the sea: sea lions, sea snails, seagulls, seals, and sea urchins alike all say goodnight to the little otter and his momma. Wish Williams' illustrations are simply stunning and will wow grown-ups and children alike! And the story is sure to charm even the toughest little critic.



Goodnight, Little Sea Otter is due out September 30th.

And so I bid you all a fond farewell. Until next time, fellow book lovers!

Best,

En-Szu

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trosclair and the Alligator



Fact: kids do not like doing what they are told.

Second fact: kids will hear you tell them to do one thing, and gladly do the opposite. Usually, this ends disastrously.

In Trosclair and the Alligator, young Trosclair is told by everyone to avoid Bee Island Swamp. A giant alligator named Gargantua has been roaming about and he is notoriously ferocious. But Trosclair really wants to visit the swamp...and it's only some quick-footed thinking that saves Trosclair and his poor dog, Ollie, from becoming dinner!

Trosclair and the Alligator is a fun read for the young and old alike. Everyone understands childhood curiosity and mischief - whether you're from the big city or Louisiana Bayou, kids get in all sorts of sticky situations from not listening. Hopefully this tale of a close call will teach your little one a valuable lesson!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kissing Skunks




People in love can be so silly.

You know how it is. You see it all the time: holding hands, nauseatingly cute nicknames, the goo-goo eyes and goofy smiles. They do things like buy ice cream cones and go for walks in the park, buy ridiculous trinkets for each other, call or text each other night and day for no reason whatsoever, and generally sicken everyone around them. But it's endearing, for the most part, because you either remember a time when you were also like that, or it gives you hope for having that someday for yourself.

In Kissing Skunks, a married skunk couple display such nonsensical affection for one another that it begins to border on the absurd. It is a funny and touching story that will appeal to kids and grown-ups of all ages (unless your child was like me, and thinks that boys and girls are full of cooties). Kissing Skunks captures the sweetness and adorable nature of two people in love, and you will most definitely find it impossible to read the book without smiling.

Most people think that books that deal with love are only suitable for Valentine's Day, but that simply isn't true - love happens year-round, not just on one day in February! Pick up your copy of Kissing Skunks today!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jim's Dog, Muffins


Dealing with grief at a young age is difficult. When someone you hold dear passes away, it is hard to grapple with the wide range of extreme emotions. And while it is especially challenging for a young person who has lost someone, it is also hard for peers to understand exactly what kind of feelings their fellow classmate or friend is being subjected to.

In Jim's Dog, Muffins, Jim is very sad after his dog is killed in an accident. He does not want to participate in any of the classroom activities. He doesn't want to talk to anyone, and he just wants to be alone. Some of his classmates don't understand. They think he is being mean, antisocial, and rude. But the first grade teacher understands what Jim is going through, and tells the children that "Maybe Jim needs time to be sad." And Jim is really sad, until Paul finally finds a way to get him to open up.

Jim's Dog, Muffins is a moving and necessary read for everyone. It teaches a touching and valuable lesson on grief and understanding. Highly recommended for audiences both young and old. Get your copy today!

Jim's Dog, Muffins is available in hardcover and paperback editions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Seaweed Book


Though I mentioned in my last post that summer's almost over, I'm well aware of the fact that now is a better time than ever to catch the last of the easy-breezy vacation days and make the most of them. If you haven't yet, head out to the beach! There is absolutely nothing in this world more fantastic than sprawling out under the sun (make sure to slather on that SPF!) with a good book, listening to the ocean waves crashing in the background as seagulls circle overhead. There's also nothing that beats finding sand in all your stuff for weeks afterwards, a persistent (and, admittedly, slightly irritating) reminder of the relaxing and fun times spent on the shore.

Rose Treat found another way to have a reminder of her days on the beach. After her first trip to the ocean shore, she became fascinated with the beauty of the seaweeds floating the water. What started as fascination quickly developed into a full-time passion, and in no time she became an avid studier and collector of seaweed. In The Seaweed Book, Treat shares how to recognize and identify different seaweeds, as well as presenting a myriad of delightful activities and uses for seaweed. Children and adults can learn how to make pictures, decorate cards, or create other gifts.

So while summer is fading fast, there's still plenty of time to make some lasting memories - and why not make some memories with seaweed? In late fall or winter, you'll have something to enjoy that will remind you of balmy weather and lazier days...and who doesn't want that? It sure beats shoveling snow off the driveway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When Someone Is Afraid


We all have different ways of dealing with fears. If I wake up from a particularly terrifying night terror at 3 AM, my surefire cure is putting on an animated film and listening to Kylie Minogue until I fall asleep again. It's really weird, but it does the trick. Some people turn on all the lights, others bury themselves under a mountain of blankets, still others turn to comfort foods or books. The methods vary, but the goal is the same - to ease the troubling memories out of our minds and make ourselves feel safe again.

In When Someone Is Afraid, readers are introduced to the various ways different animals deal with fear. Frogs dive into a pond, ostriches bury their heads, turtles retreat into their shell...and a young boy calls on his mother. A sweet and fun read for children and adults alike, it'll be a sure way to ease nighttime fears and remind children how special having a caring adult in their life is. Read When Someone Is Afraid to let your little one know that you'll always be there for them!

Whether you listen to dancefloor anthem queens or gorge on chocolate cake to quell your fears, it's important to have a way to handle situations in which one is afraid. Talk to your child about ways in which they can resolve their fears and get a good night's rest.

When Someone is Afraid is written by Valeri Gorbachev and illustrated by Kostya Gorbachev. It is available in hardcover edition.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Will I Have A Friend?


It's hard to believe, but it's August already! And while the month is still new, people are already feeling the end-of-summer vibes. No more picnics. The backyard grill will be covered up. The pool will be drained. The sunblock will be tossed out, sundresses put in storage, and sandals packed away. No more neons and pastels - hello camel, tweed, and burgundy. No more greenery - it's time for orange and yellow leaves.

Autumn also signals the start of the school year. And for kids just starting school, it can be a very scary and intimidating time! The prospect of starting a new and very important chapter of your life can reduce even the most confident kid to a bag of nerves. There's a lot to worry about: what outfit to wear on the first day, what backpack to choose, what lunch to pack. But the most important and nerve-wracking question is much larger than what the overall style and appearance should be.

In Will I Have a Friend?, Jim is very anxious on his first day of school. He is worried that he won't have any friends. His dad tells him everything will be okay, but Jim finds himself nervously alone...until Paul shares his toy truck.

Will I Have a Friend? is heartwarming and a necessary read for all children just starting school or starting the academic year at a new school. It is straightforward and children will find that they can easily relate to Jim's concerns and experience. Even for children returning to school, Will I Have a Friend? has much to offer: it will remind them of how scared they were on their first day, and encourage them to make new children feel welcome.

So while it's not quite that time of year just yet, start getting prepared for fall! Get your copy of Will I Have a Friend? today!

Will I Have a Friend? is part of the We Love First Grade! series written by Miriam Cohen and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Child's Garden of Verses


Poetry is a tricky thing. Sometimes it can be life-changing and wonderful, and other times it can be devastatingly dull and awful. I've spent a lot of time in the company of wannabe poets, and I've read my fair share of decent pieces and verses that made me want to tear my hair out.

Today I was on my way to work and made my usual Starbucks stop before heading into the subway for my morning commute. I was listening to my iPod and a song I really liked had just finished playing. I was feeling good. I was still coasting on my positive energy when I ordered my iced coffee. The guy who usually takes my order was a lot friendlier, and even commented, "You know, this is the first time I've ever seen you smile! You're always so...frown-y." I guess my happiness was obvious. Good music can put you in a really good place!

I love a good song. I love a good tune, but most importantly, I love good lyrics that can capture a moment or feeling with a sharp accuracy that a story can't convey. Good lyrics are, in essence, excellent poetry.

A Child's Garden of Verses will introduce children to the incredible world of such poetry. Children can discover the delightful effect of words with this amazing book that is both necessary as an introductory volume and a library staple. Robert Louis Stevenson's rhymes come to life with the aid of Brian Wildsmith's enchanting illustrations that will have children returning to read again and again. It's really a must-have!

A Child's Garden of Verses is available in hardcover and paperback editions.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Aminal


Every child is familiar with the game of "Telephone." It's a timeless classic that has kept kids in stitches for decades. We're all familiar with the drill - sitting in a circle with your friends, whispering a phrase from person to person until the last child finally says aloud the completely convoluted version he heard. It's been played since I was a kid, since my parents were kids, since my grandparents were kids...it's an internationally popular game that will never go out of style, no matter what new technology pops up (I mean, honestly - there's not a whole lot of fun to be had in playing "Text Message" or "Twitter" or "Facebook", now is there?). No, "Telephone" has been an endless source of amusement for years and looks like it's got the lasting power to stay that way for a while.

But seasoned veterans of the game also know that phrases can quickly develop into completely unexpected and unrelated things, and not necessarily in a good way. In the Aminal, little Patrick's simple mispronunciation of a word sets of a chain reaction of embellishments and new plot twists to his story that sends the neighborhood children into a frenzy! The story picks up more frightening edges as it's passed on from friend to friend, and by the time everyone's heard about it, they think they have to save Patrick from a giant green "aminal" that's going to eat him!

Children will thoroughly enjoy reading this book. The silly mistakes the characters make are easily identifiable and bring the story to life. Readers will laugh and appreciate the surprise ending. It'll also teach a valuable lesson in communication!

Pick up your copy today!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Humbug Rabbit


On this day in 1866, Helen Beatrix Potter was born in London, England. Potter wrote and illustrated numerous children's books about animals, and her best-known and most loved work is the famous Tale of Peter Rabbit. Inspired by the pet that kept her company during her relatively lonely adolescence and young adult life, Peter is a mischievous young bunny who decides not to listen to his mother and ends up in a world of trouble. Internationally, Potter's stories and Peter Rabbit have become an established part of children's literature and have earned a special place in the hearts of children (and the young at heart) everywhere.

In Humbug Rabbit, we are introduced to Granny, Gracie and Otto the chickens, Mother and Father Rabbit (and all their children!), and Barnaby, a devilish cat. Easter is around the bend, and Granny has an egg hunt planned for when her grandchildren arrive! But that devilish cat Barnaby is set on making a mix-up. After he pushes the colored eggs into the Rabbit burrow, Easter is filled with unexpected surprises for everyone!

Like Potter's beloved tales, Humbut Rabbit is instantly engaging and fun to read. Children will fall in love immediately with Lorna Balian's humorous narrative and colorful illustrations. Sweet and refreshingly classic, Humbug Rabbit is a book that can be enjoyed year-round by children and the adults in their lives.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kitten's Adventure


I am very, very allergic to cats. Five minutes in the company of one will reduce me to a blubbering mess of running nose, watery eyes, relentless sneezing, and congested chest. It's not my most flattering look.

But that didn't stop me from wanting a kitten. I wanted one so badly! Kittens were the most adorable things in the universe to me. So I took up cat sitting, with the ridiculous notion that somehow overexposure to cat dander and fur would help me build up an immunity of sorts.

Worst idea ever.

By the end of each day my nose was raw and itchy from nonstop nose-blowing. My eyes were bloodshot and sore from being rubbed to ease the itchiness. I was wheezing and hacking my way home, relieved when I could finally toss aside the hair-covered garments I was wearing and rinse away the extremely irritating remnants of scent-marking the furry little pest was inevitably determined to leave behind. I don't think it's possible for me to think of any time in my life I've been so miserably uncomfortable.

But even with my severe allergic reaction, I still loved cats. I still do, to this day. There's something so charming and lovable about their feisty independent spirit, their knack for mischief and adventure, and their ability to get up to absolutely no good and yet look so forgivably adorable while at it.

Kitten's Adventure manages to adeptly capture the characteristic liveliness and fun-loving attitude of kittens in this instantly lovable and entertaining early reader. Kitten decides to go off on a day-long exploration, and Michele Coxon's preciously detailed illustrations are engaging and will be instant favorites of children and adults alike.

Pick up your copy today!

Available in paperback and hardcover editions, and in Portuguese/English, Spanish/English, and Vietnamese/English bilingual editions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby, Come Out!


I was recently going through old photo albums with a friend of mine. I had just discovered a treasure trove of family photographs in a trunk that had been stowed away in a closet, and was reveling in the excitement of what was revealed: my mother wore zebra print pants in the eighties, my dad had more than a slight fixation with silk paisley-print shirts during his college days, and various extended family members rocked ridiculous updos, facial hair, and makeup. I also found a number of photographs of my brother and I as very young children - me wearing printed stirrup pants, him in neon windbreakers. We were very much children of the nineties. It was marvelous.

Then I came across the few photos that had been taken on the day of my brother's birth. He had decided to arrive on the day of his baby shower. It's one of the few early memories of my life that I still have: I vividly recall repeatedly asking when I could eat some of the cake and being told that I had to wait until my mother had the first slice - and then she went into labor, and I never got any cake. It was pure mayhem. I was shoveled aside as people ran around, calling a cab, packing her bags, and grabbing the flowers and unopened gifts for the hospital. At one point someone remembered that there was actually a first child in the picture and I was carried off to stay at the home of a friend of a friend of a friend's until my new sibling arrived. Needless to say, I was more than a little grumpy - I was used to being the center of attention, and was not only mad that I was going to have to share the spotlight, but also that I still hadn't had any cake. I blamed my brother entirely. Before I even met him, I pegged him as a drama queen who had waited until the best moment to snag all the attention.

In Baby, Come Out!, a baby refuses to leave his mother's belly. She likes living the simple, easy life inside. Nobody can convince her to leave - not her mother, not her grandparents, and not even her siblings. But when Baby can't get any kisses, she decides that it's time to finally join everyone outside!

Baby, Come Out! is a charming read and a precious book. It is timeless and sweet, and children and adults will both fall in love with the story immediately.

My brother, who waited until the opportune moment to arrive, was very much like Baby to me. He lounged around in my mother's belly until he realized he was missing out on things in the outside world - love, affection, and attention. So while I may resent him a little for making me share everything, I guess I can understand. I still snag an extra piece of his birthday cake every year, though - hey, I need to compensate somehow!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Many Pears!


Pamela the cow loves pears.

Who doesn't?

But Pamela is obsessed with pears. She eats everyone's pears: at picnics, at lunch, all the time! She likes plain pears, stewed pears with ice cream, and pear pie with whipped cream. Pamela eats so many pears, little Amy decides it's time to intervene. But nothing seems to work - building a fence around the pear trees, tying Pamela to a tree, and picking pears before she gets to them all fail miserably as Pamela finds a way around each tactic. So finally Amy formulates a plan to get Pamela to leave pears alone, once and for all.

Too Many Pears! is simply delightful. Children and adults will both find the story and illustrations hilarious and charming. It's my personal favorite!

All this reading about pears definitely gets me hungry, too. So I decided to do a little research and dig up recipes involving pears. What I discovered was a gold mine! If you visit www.usapears.com, you'll find instructions on how to make anything from balsamic-glazed pear and goat cheese crostini to pear smoothies to bacon and bleu cheese sliders with pear ketchup to hot fudge pear sundaes to vidalia and pear honey soup...and that's just the beginning. If you aren't drooling yet, you should definitely check out the website and take a peek at the photographs. Our dear Pamela would probably faint.

Too Many Pears! is a great book to read to your child, as it will encourage not only eating healthy fruit but inspire them to get creative with how they consume healthy foods. Who says that fruit has to be boring? Spice things up with a smoothie or by adding some frozen yogurt! Throw it in salads or on top of oatmeal! Bake them with a dallop of butter and some cinnamon! The possibilities are endless.

Now that I'm ravenously hungry, I'm writing out my grocery list for a ginger pear cake I'll bake tonight. Hopefully you'll be inspired to also make something fun with pears - and pick up a copy of Too Many Pears!

Too Many Pears! is available in hardcover and paperback editions. It is also available in Portuguese/English, Spanish/English, and Japanese/English editions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That's Like Me!


In That’s Like Me!, different people (both young and old) share their stories of living with a learning difference. But each story does more than just give a brief account of each person’s life – it serves to emphasize the central theme of the book as a whole: the incredible power of encouragement. Each individual initially faced seemingly overwhelming amounts of negativity from a society unwilling to understand children with learning differences. They encountered isolation, mockery, and even punishment because they were unable to learn the same way as their peers. The frustration of being singled out often forced them into silence. Not being “normal” like other children caused them to lose faith in themselves and see no hope in the future ahead. However, each person discovered that once they found even just one person who saw their talents and passions as gifts, their entire world changed. Readers will meet people who pushed through the odds to do what they really love: a firefighter, a trapeze artist, a veterinarian, a racecar driver, and more. By the time children and adults come to the end of the book, they will feel encouraged to concentrate on pursuing their gifts. Readers will have a better understanding not only of people with learning differences, but of what they can do to create a more accepting and understanding world so that more children with L.D. can realize their dreams.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Have You Fed the Cat?


My favorite after school activity when I was in elementary school was paying a visit to the pet shop a few blocks down from my school. I loved to press my face to the glass and watch the little puppies prance and play or even just nap. I really, really wanted one. They were so adorable and so full of energy!

My dad knew better, though. A veteran pet owner for the ages, he knew that after about a week my promises to clean up after the dog, walk it every day, remember to feed it, and otherwise care for it would be a thing of the past. The poor animal would have to fend for itself, pine for attention, and otherwise lead a boring and uneventful life. The neglect it would inevitably endure was too painful to think of, so every time I would whine and beg for a cute little puppy dog, my dad firmly said "No way."


Years later I finally understand my dad's logic, but at the time I thought he was being cruel and unreasonable. In truth, the dog would have probably suffered enormously under my care (if the treatment of my Barbies was any indication of my caretaking abilities), and would be much better off in a more loving environment.

Tragically, however, many pets find themselves initially surrounded by love and gradually ignored as time passes. They become a part of the furniture, or worse - a nuisance.

In Have You Fed the Cat?, Michele Coxon tells the tale of Sam the cat who was the center of attention as a kitten but is mostly left on his own now. The only time he is even noticed is when he wants food. And since everyone is feeding him, Sam starts to become a very large cat...

It is sad how easily pets are ignored by their homes. Have You Fed the Cat? will remind readers, children and adults alike, that a pet is still very much a part of the family it belongs to and wants to be loved and cared for. It's a valuable lesson for children to learn, and one their pets will definitely appreciate!

Available in paperback and hardcover editions. Also available in Spanish/English.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transforming Lives


It's easy to complain about the little things. Your latte was prepared incorrectly this morning. The tickets to a show you really wanted to see are sold out. Your dog ruined your new shoes. You lost your lucky pair of underpants. The list could go on and on.

But for some people, these mishaps are little blips that would barely register on their radar. In Uganda, life is a lot harder than it is over here in the States. Children are brutally robbed of their youth and innocence and forced into situations that are seemingly impossible to ever fully recover from.

There are many things we take for granted. After reading Transforming Lives, I realized that my overall outlook on life definitely needed a fresh perspective. It isn't difficult to whine and grumble about having a paper to write or having to get up early after a long night, but for the people of Uganda, education is a luxury few can afford and hard labor from before sunrise to late into the evening is not uncommon in the least. With no healthcare or even welfare system, a family left crippled by civil war and/or HIV/AIDS could find the very prospect of survival nearly impossible. Children are orphaned, subjected to grueling labor for very little pay, and have little to no hope for their future. Many bear witness to the atrocities of rebel soldier brutalities, and some 20,000 young children have been abducted and forced into fighting for the rebel army. These children saw things that no one should ever have to see and were forced to do things that continue to plague them with night terrors and guilt.

That's where L.E.A.D. Uganda steps in. Armed with the belief that education is the key to making a change, L.E.A.D. puts emphasis on developing future leaders for the country. It sends children who show the potential to really flourish in an academically challenging environment to the top schools in the nation and the continent of Africa. These children had no hope before the intervention - they were staring down a future of hardship, poverty, and despair. L.E.A.D. Uganda gave them the means to start dreaming again, regardless of what they had been through before. Through the program, these children have hope. Reading their personal stories is both heartbreaking and utterly world-changing.

Transforming Lives isn't about soliciting donations or peddling out testimonies for pity. It's about showing the empowering transformation that comes with giving a child who had nothing to look forward to the will to hope again. It's about showing the boundless optimism and love of their country that each individual possesses. It's about giving them a voice to share their visions for the future of Uganda, and how they can now see themselves as playing a critical role in changing their home country for the better. Says Ntege, a former child laborer now enrolled in one of Africa's top boarding schools, "I want to be the change I want to see in Africa." Hilda, the eldest child of a widowed mother with HIV, says that since she is now enrolled at a prestigious school and earning top marks she is free to pursue her dream of becoming a neurosurgeon. "I will come back...and use my skills to help reduce suffering in my country," she says. Her goal of returning to rebuild the war-torn nation is one that resonates in the stories of all these children. They seek not only a better future for themselves, but one for everyone in their country.

"I am healing," says Ojok, a former child soldier. With the help of L.E.A.D., this is something more and more children are able to say. Pick up a copy of Transforming Lives today and have your own world transformed by the amazing stories of these children. They are truly a testimony to the endurance of the human spirit, despite earth-shattering obstacles. Be a part of the change these children have dreamed of and are working to make a reality!

For more information on L.E.A.D. Uganda and how you can get involved, please visit www.leaduganda.org.

Transforming Lives was a 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award finalist.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Big Brother


When I was three years old, I started going to nursery school. I loved playing with other kids! I loved all the games we played and all the great adventures we invented. I loved running around in the park after school, or going ice skating in the winter. It was fantastic! I only wished that I had a friend with me all the time. My mom and dad were okay, I guess, but they weren't nearly as much fun as the kids I played with. So I told my dad one day, plainly, that I wanted one of three things: a pony, a puppy, or a sister. Simple request, I thought.

But what did I get?

A brother.

Of course, in retrospect, I realize that at the time my mother must have already been pretty pregnant. My kid brother popped out only a few months later. I remember being enormously disappointed. Not only was he a boy, he was small and couldn't play any games. I was far from thrilled.

But now, all these years later, my brother and I are pretty close. Sure, he still does things that gross me out (I mean, hey - he's a sixteen-year-old boy), but I've learned to appreciate our special bond, especially now that we live about 3000 miles apart most of the year. My brother calls me up for advice all the time, and he knows he can always call if he's having a bad day and that I'll help him sort things out. I never realized how much he relied on me!

In My Big Brother, a young boy idolizes his older brother. He's smart, thoughtful and polite, athletic, and the epitome of everything the young narrator admires. So when his big brother leaves to join the army, the narrator does his very best to be a great older brother for his younger brother.

A must-have for all children with siblings, older or younger, this book captures a heartwarming and heartbreaking portrait of familial love. Emotionally compelling, especially now, with so many big brothers going off to war, this book is guaranteed to touch anyone who reads it. Get your copy today!

My Big Brother is available in both hardcover and paperback editions, as well as in a Spanish/English bilingual print.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Termites on a Stick


A lot of interesting things happened on this day in history. In 1789, during the French Revolution, Parisian citizens stormed the Bastille and released the prisoners. Gustav Klimt, the Austrian painter, was born in 1862. William H. Bonney Jr., more commonly known as Billy the Kid, was killed in 1881. And on July 14th, 1960, the amazing Jane Goodall, British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace, set foot in the Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania. It was the start of extraordinary scientific discoveries in chimpanzee behavior. Today, fifty years later, the Gombe research is one of the longest running studies of animals in the wild. Its results have radically changed the way we understand all living things, inspired a generation of scientists around the world, and changed the world of ethology.

One of the most revolutionary discoveries Jane made during that first trip to Tanzania occurred several weeks into her stay. She observed two chimpanzees taking sticks and stripping them of branches before poking them into termite colonies. After removing the sticks, the chimps snacked on their catches: juicy termites fished out of the ground.

This was no insignificant observation. Up until that point, tool-making was identified as a defining trait of mankind. Jane’s discovery was about to change how we understood not only chimpanzees, but all living creatures - and, most importantly, the place and role of human beings in the ecological structure of the world.


In Termites on a Stick, a young chimpanzee observes his mother enjoying her favorite snack, termites. The young chimp wants to have some for himself, but his mother wants him to learn how to fish for termites on his own. After trial and error, the young chimpanzee finally earns his delectable treat!

Children are going to fall in love with this book. Michele Coxon’s illustrations bring the liveliness and endearing nature of chimpanzees to life. Like Goodall, young children will be awed by the parallels they find between their own lives and the everyday life of chimpanzees.

Goodall’s discoveries changed the world. She cites her first inspiration as a stuffed toy chimpanzee she received as a child. Who knew that it would eventually lead to such exciting accomplishments? Your child could very well be the next little Jane. Open his or her eyes to the wonderful world of wildlife with Termites on a Stick!

Also:

For more information on Jane Goodall, and to find out how to get involved in the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, visit www.janegoodall.org

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fool of the World and the Flying Ship


Fairytales and folk tales teach children to let their imagination run wild. Drawn into the spectacular world of magic and wonder, children let their creativity expand to fantastic heights. A little imagination can transform any simple object into an instrument central to a great adventure, or a room into a world of unexpected possibilities. As a child, I was an avid reader of fairytales of all kinds – from Grimm’s collected works to Greco-Roman mythology to Celtic and Middle Eastern folklore, I was an absorbant little sponge, soaking in every word and reworking what I had read into my everyday imaginative play. In the playground I was a knight on a noble quest to slay a dragon. On the sidewalk I was a lost explorer who discovered a new universe in space. At home I was a queen with the ability to turn dolls into living people. And the museum was the ultimate location to really let loose – I was a jungle hunter who befriended animals who could talk, I was a deep sea diver who found a lost underwater civilization, and I was a time traveler who befriended cave artists. I could be a hero, a villain, or a side character. Fairytales gave me a starting point to create my own mysteries, romances, and thrilling adventures.

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is a traditional Ukrainian folk tale, retold and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. In this exciting story, a young man whom everyone calls the Fool of the World sets out on a quest to marry the Tsar’s daughter, the Tsarevna. The catch is that the only way to marry her is by bringing the Tsar a flying ship. On his adventure to bring the Tsar a flying ship, the Fool of the World meets a colorful and hilarious cast of characters. As the Tsar’s list of requests grows wilder and more extravagant, so does the Fool of the World’s quest.

This story is very entertaining and sure to capture the heart of all audiences. The traditional, tried-and-true story will please both children and grown adults alike.

Pick up your copy today!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Layla's Head Scarf


Fitting in at school is a very big deal to children. From ages four to teenager, it's extremely common for a kid to value nothing more than being accepted by his or her peers (of course, some children are intensely anti-conformist, which is a whole different story). It's painful, almost, to find yourself an outcast because something about you sets you apart from the general pack.

It's kind of like the time I broke my toe the day before my family went to Sea World. I was eleven. I cried hysterically - not only because my toe hurt a whole lot, but because I would have to use crutches all day - and I was horribly embarrassed. I felt like everyone was staring at me.

But when it came time to see Shamu, the world-famous celebrity killer whale, I completely forgot about everyone around me. I was so thrilled to get splashed on by the giant orca! And once I forgot that crutches were something I considered to be harshing my mellow, so to speak, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the day. If anyone was looking at me, I didn't notice.

Kids can be strange. They are desperate to not only fit in, but to ostracize others in an effort to prove exactly how much they themselves belong. Thus, finding yourself on the outside of the "in crowd" can be devastating more or less because of awareness at what's going on on the other end of the mockery. Yet it is rare to find a child who sympathizes with the subject of cruel jokes, exclusion, and sometimes even mean-spirited pranks.

In Layla's Head Scarf, Layla is a new student in the first grade. She is very shy, and stands out because she always wears a scarf on her head. Some children try to make her feel comfortable, but a lot of them are not used to the scarf and don't understand why Layla wears it. Layla feels more and more excluded from her classmates, until it is time for the class to do paintings of their families. When the children realize that each student's family stands out for different reasons, they finally begin to understand Layla's head scarf.

Layla's Head Scarf is an essential read in this day and age. More than simply a lesson on inclusion, it's a book about realizing that we are technically ALL different. Kids will do nearly anything to fit in - when I was in elementary school, it was all about dyeing your hair blue, wearing slip-on sneakers, and collecting those stretchy choker necklaces - but if they realize that there really is no "normal" or "regular," it'll save them a lot of headache and heartache. They'll be free to be themselves, something so precious when you only have one childhood in a lifetime.

Layla's Head Scarf is part of the We Love First Grade™ series, and was nominated for a 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Mother's Pearls


When I was a young teenager, a sudden interest in family history led me to nearly turn the house upside down in search of photographs and relics that would somehow clue me in to the complex and fascinating story that had somehow ended with me, aged fifteen, living in New York. What I managed to unearth was a riveting story full of adventure, romance, mystery, and a whole lot of loose ends. Nonetheless, I was thrilled to have captured the essence of the wonderful story that was only a prelude to my birth. I couldn't wait to go out into the world and also have fantastic adventures, close encounters, and a bounty of stories to tell. I guess knowing more about my past, and using my imagination to fill in the blank spaces, is what ultimately pushed me to pursue creative arts and literature studies. It also opened my eyes to the endless
possibilities for writing my own chapter in my family history, making my personal mark on the space where my mother's side and my father's side collided, and leaving a legacy for whoever would come next.

In My Mother's Pearls, a young girl tells the story of a special pearl necklace that has been passed on from generation to generation of women in her mother's family. Starting in 1998 and working backwards all the way to 1788, the young narrator tells of how each woman had a special relationship to the pearls: from her mother Marianne all the way to her great-great-great-great-great-great-Grandmother Susanna, women wore the pearls while playing dress-up, on special occasions, even traveling across the sea!

Young children will love reading My Mother's Pearls over and over again. It's also a great starting point for opening a discussion on your own family's story. Pick up your copy today!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Carry Me




Different cultures have different cuisines, different folktales, different traditions, and different games. They have different ways of showing gratitude, contempt, and sadness. They have different ways of mourning, celebrating, and observing holidays. It's the differences in universally practiced things that make each culture unique and special.

In Carry Me, babies will be introduced to babies from around the world and the ways in which they are carried by adults. Babies from China, Russia, Scotland, Kenya, India, Ecuador, and the USA are all carried different ways. Babies will love getting acquainted with their global neighbors through this book!

Raising kids prepared to interact with others from different backgrounds is imperative in this day and age. Start your little one early with Carry Me!

Don't forget to look for our other Babies Everywhere™ titles, Families and Eating the Rainbow!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Madison's Patriotic Project


July 4th is a time of celebration here in the States. As such, children commonly associate the holiday with picnics, water sports, backyard grill sessions, outdoor games with friends, delicious food, family, and - of course - fireworks. It's the celebration that really kick-starts a fantastic summer season, and no vacation is complete without a full-out July 4th jubilee.

But how many kids are familiar with the real reason for the holiday?

In Madison's Patriotic Project, young Madison is excited to put together the best scrapbook ever and win her class's patriotic project contest. But she gets so wrapped up in making the winning entry that she doesn't pay attention to all the facts of American history she's learning along the way. In fact, she barely notices how great her final product is because she's so hung up on whether or not she takes home the prize.

It's easy to get distracted from what's meaningful when a tantalizing prize seems to dangle just out of reach. Our goals can get mixed up and confused easily, and we can miss out on something really important in the process. While the Fourth of July has passed, the opportunity to teach your kids about the meaning behind the celebration, and all holiday celebrations, is available year round. Act on it! And don't forget to pick up your copy of Madison's Patriotic Project today!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hidden Letters Interview with Deborah Slier & Ian Shine

The video below is an interview conducted during the 2010 ALA Midwinter Conference in Boston, MA. Kathy O'Hehir sat down with the authors of Hidden Letters to find out more about the book and the process of putting it together.



See our post on Hidden Letters here.

Urban Animals



The city can be an exciting and adventurous place for a child (see The Girl on the Yellow Giraffe!), and now that summertime is in full swing, it's time to get out there and explore!

Growing up in New York was always such an awesome thing to me as a kid. My mother was an avid architecture lover and would point out all the historical buildings, as well as things I wouldn't have noticed about them - the detailing around the extravagant bay windows of Fifth Avenue apartment buildings, the gothic patterns banding around buildings down in Herald Square, the gargoyles howling at the sky around Central park. It was all so fascinating to me as a child.

Isabel Hill also shares a love for these hidden treasures of the city. In her book Urban Animals, Hill points out different animals integrated into the magnificent architecture of New York. It could serve as a fun guide for a day's adventure. So slather on that SPF 50, lace up your walking shoes, and hit the streets!

Urban Animals, available in both paperback and hardcover editions, was a finalist in the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2010 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalists!

This year, three of our books were selected as finalists for the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award!
Blog posts on the individual titles coming soon.



Click here for more information on Urban Animals.



Click here for more information on Layla's Head Scarf.



Click here for more information on Transforming Lives.

ALA Annual Conference

Hey, everyone! It was great to see so many new and familiar faces at the ALA Annual Conference last weekend. We had a fantastic time meeting so many people! If you missed out on the fun, here are some photos. Be sure to visit our website, StarBrightBooks.org, and check out all of our titles!



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Owl and the Woodpecker


Sometimes, neighbors suck.

A few years ago a couple moved in to the apartment next door after the previous tenant, an angst-filled businessman who looked like he never slept, decided he couldn't deal with the stress of city life and moved back to the suburbs to get married. The new neighbors seemed completely harmless at first. Of course, this is New York, so it wasn't as though they came knocking on my door the first day to say hello, but they were friendly in the hallway and made nice small talk during the morning waits for the elevator. They were mindful to turn off their loud music by 10 PM every night, and their social gatherings never reached obnoxiously audible levels (unlike the old neighbor, who used to throw loud parties with all his frat buddies from college). I thought they were decent people and was glad to have relatively quiet, reasonable people living next door...until Emma came along.

Emma was a teeny tiny terrier mix that was part Chihuahua, part something else, and part spawn of the devil. Emma also had vocal chords that would impress Whitney Houston. That dog drove me to the brink of insanity. Barking all hours of the night and day, Emma was relentless in making her presence known to all residents of the ninth floor...and probably the 37th, as well. She was perceptive, too. If I saw her headed out for her morning walk when I was headed out for the day, I would give her the evil eye - and she would start howling and yapping away. The dog was the size of an overgrown rodent, but boy oh boy could she make noise. I thanked my lucky stars the day Emma and her owners moved away.

In The Owl and the Woodpecker, Brian Wildsmith cleverly tells the tale of two neighbors who just don't get along. Woodpecker is up all day making noise, which makes it hard for Owl to sleep. Owl and Woodpecker's beef escalates so much that other forest animals try to intervene, but to no avail. However, Owl experiences a change of heart once Woodpecker and his pecking save Owl's life.

I only wish that I could have found something redeeming out of all of Emma's noise. Truthfully, there was absolutely nothing that came from it but severe annoyance and headaches from sleep deprivation. I guess the lesson I learned was that I shouldn't have ever complained about the shouty, fist-pumping ragers my ex-neighbor threw. In comparison to Emma, they sounded like the New York Philharmonic playing a grand symphony next door.

Living with other people can be tough. It's not just neighbors - it can be a new sibling, or visiting relatives. It's an important lesson to learn to live with the things we find irritating in others. Children especially need to be taught to live harmoniously with those around them. It's a key lesson in growing up. The Owl and the Woodpecker presents this priceless information in a fun, easy to understand, and easy to digest manner. Pick up your copy today!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little Wood Duck


Teaching your child about tolerance and individuality is a necessary, though tricky, lesson. The theoretical "right thing to do" in actuality often finds itself taking a backseat to the reality of assimilating into "the crowd." We all desire to belong to a group identity, and sometimes we sadly believe that this means excluding others who don't measure up somehow. Kids aren't immune to the sway of the majority in the least - countless children have renounced Barbie dolls, chosen their least favorite color as their most favorite, and engaged in all manners of mischief simply because said behavior is regarded as "cool" at the moment. And the worst kind of cool is the kind that requires you to mercilessly pick on those who aren't up to par in their coolness. The wrong shoes, the wrong backpack - all things that can be mocked and made fun of until the victim is reduced to tears. Forget about a physical or mental disability - anything different from "normal" is labeled as "weird," as though one's condition at birth was entirely by choice.

Brian Wildsmith's The Little Wood Duck is unable to swim in a straight line like his brothers and sisters. He tries really hard, but he's only able to swim in circles due to unevenly sized feet. His siblings complain, his mother scolds, and all the woodland animals laugh and tease him. But it turns out that the difference that separates him from the others ends up saving him and his siblings from a hungry fox!

Being different isn't a curse. It can be a gift. It's a matter of perspective. Children aren't going to instantly have a change of attitude - that takes time - but they'll most certainly have a different outlook after reading this book. Sometimes you have to drown out the noise of those around you to really see the heart of an individual - and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dancing Boy


The tale of the Pied Piper of Hamlin is one that we're all pretty familiar with. The Pied Piper sweeps through a village and all the children follow him away to an unknown location, where they are never seen again. He entices them with his magical, enchanting music that for unknown reasons draws the children to him in droves.

While the story of the Pied Piper is a tad scary and most certainly doesn't have a happy ending, the general mood of the story is one of whimsy and unpredictability, not necessarily all negative. In Ronald Himler's Dancing Boy, the positive aspects of children running free are captured in breathtaking illustrations. Completely wordless, this book celebrates a wistful youthful spirit that is touching and heartwarming.

Dancing Boy isn't just a book for children; it's a book for all of us who miss living in the world of a child. The innocence and fun that come with still believing in the magic of the universe is perfectly expressed in Himler's book. Breaking free of conformity, even for just a little while, can be so liberating and necessary at times. Celebrate taking a break from societal norms and expectations with Dancing Boy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fall Catalog!

Our fall 2010 catalog is available on our website. Check out some of our new titles, as well as old favorites!

ALA Annual Conference - This Weekend!!!

Don't forget to stop by our booth! We're #2938. Deborah Slier and Ian Shine, authors of Hidden Letters, will be there today, and tomorrow Cornelius Van Wright (illustrator of How Do You Get A Mouse to Smile? and Alicia's Happy Day)will be there as well.

We'd love to see you! Come say hello!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Families



Today seems to be a day filled with things that are just too cute for words. All morning I've encountered cute babies, cute puppies, cute kittens, and all manners of overwhelmingly adorable things. Why that is, I have no idea, but it inspired today's pick for the Book of the Day: Families.

Human and animal families care for their young in similar ways, as Families shows. They give kisses, share snacks, and take naps together. Photos of animal families doing the same thing that human families are is just so very precious. Babies and their adults alike will simply love looking at this board book over and over again.

And to continue the theme of the day, I'm throwing in some gratis photographs of other simply delightful animal families. They will simply crush you with cuteness.

Wombat and Mommy:



Hoglet (hedgehog baby):



Piglet and Mommy:



Meerkat baby and Mommy:



Hope YOUR day is filled with the most darling things!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jungle Party


It's getting hotter and hotter every day now that it's officially summer. As the days get longer and the temperatures stay balmy, party season really begins to kick in. Backyard BBQ gatherings, poolside hangouts, and outdoor weddings pop up all over the calendar after Memorial Day Weekend and don't cool off until September.

Of course, not all summer parties and get-togethers are glitch-free. Relaxing in flip flops while enjoying ice-cold lemonade under a large umbrella does not guarantee an absence of drama. Sometimes the good times can make you relax too much - and stop being cautious.

In Jungle Party, Python has been hungry for quite some time but can't catch any food. So he invites all of the jungle animals to a party. Of course they all agree - who says "no" to a great party invitation? - but as they get carried away by the excitement, Python decides to pull a not-so-awesome trick. And if Elephant hadn't passed by at the right time, the most fun jungle party ever could have been the very worst.

Kids are going to love this book. Brian Wildsmith's fun and engaging story is complimented by his amazing, colorful illustrations. Parents will enjoy reading aloud this entertaining story with a valuable life lesson to tell. Get your copy today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Do You Get a Mouse to Smile?


Kids can get really moody. When something doesn't go according to plan, it's not uncommon for a kid to spend hours moping or dragging his or her feet. Sometimes they won't tell you what's wrong, and you're forced to play guessing games. Did soccer tryouts not turn out so well? Was a test grade less than stellar? Did an art project get ruined?

The things we do to try and get kids to smile again can range from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Sometimes an ice cream cone just won't cut it. Though it usually doesn't take a trip to the circus every time something is wrong to get the little one smiling again, sometimes it can be really hard figuring out exactly how to make things okay again.

Pets, when moping, can be a lot like kids. It's hard to communicate what's making them blue, so we have to guess. Is the menu of kibble getting kind of boring? Is the scratching post no longer fun anymore? Has the hamster wheel lost its charm?

In How Do You Get a Mouse to Smile?, Lyle doesn't know why his pet mouse won't smile. So he calls up all his friends, and they go to great lengths to try and entertain Lyle's little friend. Backflips, magic tricks, jokes - nothing works. Lyle and his friends wear themselves out doing everything they can think of...except for the one surefire thing that will make a mouse smile.

Kids will love Bonnie Grubman's silly rhyme and Cornelius Van Wright's equally goofy and whimsical illustrations. It's a book they'll want to revisit again and again. Learning how to get a mouse to smile will definitely pick your kid out of a gloomy mood. How do you get a kid to smile? By reading them this book! Get your copy today!

ALSO - If you're going to be at the ALA Annual Conference this weekend, be sure to drop by! Cornelius Van Wright will be there on the 26th and 27th.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hidden Letters


The distance of time between the current generation and World War II affects most present-day understanding of what truly happened in Europe during the war. It seems that with each passing year the realism of the time begins to grow warped and highly unrealistic. Over-glamorized portrayals of survival in Hollywood and fictional literature aid in this tragic desensitization of society. Non-fiction and creative works that actually strive for true authenticity are few and far between, and becoming a rarer breed all the time.

This is why Hidden Letters is such a literary gem. Hidden Letters is a collection of letters, photographs, and various documents surrounding the final years of Philip "Flip" Slier, a teenager living in the Netherlands during the German invasion and occupation of 1940. His 86 letters to his parents were uncovered in 1997 in the ceiling of a house in East Amsterdam that was due to be demolished, and sparked the interest of two authors who saw a most remarkable story that needed to be told.

Deborah Slier and Ian Shine spent over seven years compiling information through primary source documents, interviews, and extensive research. Their end result is a stunningly detailed and touching narrative that follows the life of a boy searching for hope in one of the most horrific situations history has ever seen. His letters to his family chronicle his struggle to survive in the face of unimaginable oppression. Flip's story is more than simply inspirational; it makes the reader aware humanity's capacity for good and evil. It pushes us to understand our duty as citizens of the world, and to do what is right even when it is frightening and dangerous. Reading Hidden Letters will most definitely leave an enormous impact on the life of whoever reads it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrating Differences on Autistic Pride Day

Today is Autistic Pride Day. On this day, we should be celebrating the differences found in neurodiversity. This year's theme is "Perspectives, not fear."

Children should be brought up to be tolerant and accepting. Here at Star Bright Books, we understand the importance of raising children to be informed members of society. That's why we've published multiple titles dealing with physical, neurological, and cultural differences.



Disabled Fables is a collection of Aesop's Fables retold and illustrated by artists with developmental disabilities. At the end of each story, the artist shares the personal meaning they have found in the story and gives a little background information on his or herself. Disabled Fables is an excellent book for both children and adults to really understand different disabilities on a more intimate level.




We Can Do It! features different children around five years old who have various disabilities, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome, and blindness. These children show the reader how they can still do the things they love, even with what would appear to be a physical setback.



Brothers & Sisters is a book told by children who have a sibling with a disability. They show the reader how his or her sibling is special to them and enriches the lives of those around them.



Friends at School shows children with many differences in a classroom environment. They play games, share, and have fun together. It demonstrates to the reader that inclusiveness and understanding are not just theoretical - they're a very real possibility!



Succeeding with LD (Succeeding with Learning Differences) is a collection of true stories from people who grew up with LD. Each person tells how they were able to overcome social and academic situations that were more difficult for them than people without LD. In the latest edition of the book, each section is followed by a passage from the person ten years later. It's a true inspiration to anyone who reads this book.

Teach your child, and even yourself, about the joys and wonders that come from building a community that is open and caring for everyone. When we all learn to celebrate the things that set us apart, and appreciate how they can positively influence our lives, it's a step towards making the world a better place.