Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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
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
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
We'd love to see you! Come say hello!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Hey everyone! Star Bright Books will be at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. from June 25- 28. Come visit us at Booth 2938!
Our schedule for poster signings is as follows. Be sure to drop by!
10:30 AM -12:00 PM
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Deborah Slier and Ian Shine
Cornelius Van Wright
Alicia's Happy Day & How Do You Get a Mouse to Smile?
Deborah Slier and Ian Shine
See you in D.C.!
What made Stravinsky's art so fantastic? Was it his mastery of melody, layering of instruments, feel for each individual note, or timing of each measure? It is safe to say that Stravinsky's greatest strength, like all renowned composers, was found in his ability to blend all of these qualities together harmoniously to create a masterpiece that would last for centuries.
"A good picture book is like a good symphony," says Peter Sis, children's book author and illustrator. "The art, the story and the treatment come together in one voice."
Giora Carmi conducts such a symphony with her book A Circle of Friends. A wordless tale, the story of the contagious nature of giving is told entirely through illustrations. Children and adults alike will be charmed and touched by the narrative of kindness opening doors to more kindness. Carmi's illustrations really do speak louder than words or melodies as the story weaves along, and it is impossible not to be drawn in.
As Sis says, "Open this book by Giora Carmi and listen..."
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
What about bilingual children? What about trilingual children? What about children who want know more languages than you can count on one hand?
While the last category is most definitely a rare occurrence, it is not unusual for parents to want their children to learn more than one language growing up, or for children to express interest in knowing more than they simply encounter in the everyday. For this purpose, we offer our books in over 20 different languages. Whether you want to teach the little one English ABC's or how to count in Farsi, we have a range of board books to suit your needs. Open up a book and open up the possibilities!
Check out our multiple Brian Wildsmith titles, all offered in multiple language translations: ABC's, Animals to Count, Opposites, Animal Colors, Farm Animals, and Zoo Animals. Wildsmith's colorful illustrations will make learning interesting and fun, and are a great place to start. Whether your language of choice is French, Navajo, or Tagalog, we have a book for you. Check it out!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
It's that time of year. Schools are starting to let out for the summer, and kids across the country are celebrating. It's summertime! Time to play games in the backyard, go swimming, or toss a frisbee around in the park. It's time for exploration - a trip to a zoo, theme park, or foreign country! Summer is a time for fun in the sun - all day, every day!
It's also a time for learning lessons. And what better time to learn the important lesson of perseverance?
In Madison and the Two Wheeler, warm weather means prime bike-riding time. The problem is, Madison doesn't know how to ride a two-wheeled bike just yet. And when she tries, and falls, she is sure that she will never ride a bike successfully without training wheels. But with some encouragement, she learns that all it takes is hope and practice to make her dream a realization.
Kids will definitely identify with Madison and her fear of falling. Riding a bike without training wheels for the first time can be scary! I know I certainly fell many, many times before finally getting the hang of it. But getting back on the bike after each spill led to me eventually coasting down the block without a single mishap.
Vanita Braver teaches this lesson in growing up in an inspring, creative way through the story of Madison. Carl DiRocco brings the tale to life with his fun, colorful illustrations. It's a perfect summertime read - get your copy today!
Monday, June 14, 2010
The city can be a huge, daunting place. People often ask, "Do you really think it is a suitable place to raise a kid? Aren't you afraid?" Since I myself grew up in Manhattan, New York, I can say with full confidence that no, there's really nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if anything, growing up in an urban environment can prove to be invaluably enriching. The city was my playground - from Central Park to Coney Island, I found endless sources of adventure.
The Girl on the Yellow Giraffe shows readers that growing up in a city can be a wonderful and magical experience. All it takes is a little imagination to transform the cityscape into a land of endless possibilities, complete with castles, dragons, wizards, battles, and giants. What is recognized by adults as simply mundane things like construction sites or fire hydrants take on entirely new meaning through the eyes of The Girl on the Yellow Giraffe.
Children will love Ronald Himler's sweet storyline and beautiful illustrations. They'll definitely be inspired to take the everyday and transform it into the spectacular after reading this book! Get your copy today and let your imagination change the familiar world around you into something exciting and new.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Playing pretend is an integral part of any childhood. Dressing up as a pirate, lion, or wizard provides countless hours of fun and excitement. It allows the imagination to truly blossom in entertaining and unexpected directions.
But what happens when you have no choice but to dress up all the time?
Meet Gideon. He’s a chameleon, and he finds that changing his appearance all the time is anything but fun. He can’t make any friends, since no one can see him. He can’t even warn anyone of upcoming danger. He begins to wonder if there is anything good that can come out of his unique color-changing ability. But just when it seems that all is hopeless, he finds a way to use his special skill to save the jungle animals!
Francesca Greco uses vibrant watercolor illustrations to bring the story of Gideon the chameleon to life. Children will love seeing Gideon change from blue, to red, to orange, to spotted, to striped, and to multi-colored. Pick up a copy and read along with your kid about nature’s greatest master of disguise!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Getting a young child to eat healthy food is no small feat. Achieving a balanced diet is difficult when food is considered to be either “yummy” or “yucky.” So how can you make eating both broccoli and strawberries fun? Show kids that Eating the Rainbow is both nutritious and enjoyable!
In this board book for children, photographs of different foods are grouped by color. Babies and toddlers will love identifying the different items on the page, which range from figs and eggplant for purple to corn and pineapple for yellow. Make the experience even more fun by snacking along as you read!
Eating the Rainbow is a fun educational book for the very young, and they’ll want to point out all the different colors and foods they eat after reading this book. Make sure you eat a rainbow of foods, too – kids learn by watching as well! Turn snack time into an adventure with Eating the Rainbow.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Kids are notorious for getting dirty. They love to climb trees, track sand onto the carpets, play in the dirt, and, on occasion, eat grass. It is not rare to find your favorite dress smeared with lipstick and food stains following a bout of “playing dress-up,” or a your countertops caked in a suspicious-looking kitchen experiment. Still – there is something quite special about the silly antics little ones are infamous for. And that is why we bring you Barnaby Bennett.
Nonconformist to the max, young Barnaby Bennett won’t wear anything that’s not the color red. In fact, he loves his outfit so much, he never changes. He wears his red clothes to school. He wears his red clothes to bed. And the odor, as days wear on, grows potent and offensive. It takes a clever aunt with outstanding sewing skills to finally save Barnaby’s family from their walking stink bomb dilemma.
Ali Teo’s illustrations are fantastic, crossing casual animation with a collage of different textiles and paper mediums. Hannah Rainforth’s rhyme has a bouncy cadence that will have kids, and yourself, asking for more. Pick up Barnaby Bennett today!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
After a streak of hot-hot-hot days here in New York, it has finally cooled off. At Star Bright Books, we're all rejoicing. New York humidity causes freshly laundered clothes to cling like sopping rags to the skin, which makes the subway rides we take around the city nothing but miserable.
It would be so wonderful to walk into the train car and be greeted by a “cool blue Island breeze” instead of more oppressive heat, or how about a steel drum band instead of the noisy screech of wheels scraping the rails. Imagine stepping off the gray platform and stepping into a whole Island town!
In Down in the Subway by Miriam Cohen, a young boy named Oscar is riding a hot, hot subway train when suddenly "the Island Lady" comes and turns the trip into a magical adventure. Out from her bag she pulls the Caribbean Sea, delicious foods, live music, and fun for all. The subway riders are treated to the best party ever as the subway car is whisked through the tunnel.
Kids don’t like hot, sticky subway rides, but even if the little one isn’t familiar with the subway system at all, he or she will really love the lively, fun narrative of Down in the Subway. Each page is exploding with beautiful, bright illustrations that will surely draw everyone in. Even if you’re not going on vacation to a tropical paradise anytime soon, it’s a welcome invitation to escape for just a little while - if only in your imagination. Kids will want to read it again and again, and you will, too.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Here at Star Bright Books, we understand the entertainment value of a well-loved theater production that translates beautifully to a book adaptation for children. So we’ve picked The Magic Flute as the book of the day. The Magic Flute is one of the most famous and beloved operas of all time, and was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who also penned the classic Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and numerous other musical compositions. The Magic Flute was Mozart’s final work, as he fell ill soon after its premier, and passed away just a little over a month afterward. Nonetheless, his magnificent piece lives on! Kyra Teis’ adaptation of The Magic Flute retains the exciting energy of the opera, using beautiful illustrations to bring the tale to life. Teis keeps the adventure enjoyable while making it accessible to a wide audience. Kids will love discovering the magical story of Prince Tamino, who seeks to save his love Princess Pamina. Available in both hardcover and paperback editions.
Friday, June 4, 2010
June 5th is World Environment Day, and in light of the recent ecological disaster, it couldn’t come at a better time. There has never been a greater opportunity to start, or delve deeper into, a conversation about the planet we call home. Saving the earth is a group effort, and every action counts! Recycle your paper, plastic, and metal. Take public transportation or bike to work. Use a reusable grocery bag. Save your wallet and the planet by taking a reusable water bottle with you when you’re on the go. And most importantly, don’t hesitate to educate the young on our planet’s growing plight.
Here at Star Bright Books, everyone pretty much agrees that a wonderful picture book to read on World Environment Day is Brian Wildsmith’s Professor Noah’s Spaceship. A fresh spin on the story of Noah, Wildsmith crafts a world on the brink of giving up the ghost. Animals have nowhere to go as their forests are cut or burned down. Food is scarce, and what’s is available for consumption is hardly edible. Pollution has left them physically weakened and in danger. Professor Noah steps in to save the animals by whisking them away on his very unusual spaceship. Kids and grown-ups alike will simply love Wildsmith’s bright, colorful illustrations that invoke a sense of whimsy like no other, and Wildsmith breathes new life into the story that has never felt quite so relevant.
As we all worry over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, remember that it’s our job to keep the earth fit for the kids and their future. Then, when it’s their turn, they will be aware of exactly what that entails – so get them started now!