Children’s author-illustrator Bernard Waber, creator of much-loved picture books about Lyle the crocodile and other anthropomorphic animals, died on May 16, 2013. He was 88. Waber was born in Philadelphia on September 27, 1924; though he enjoyed drawing when he was a child, he didn’t consider an art career early on. After serving in World War II, he went back to college switching his major from finance to art. Various magazine art directors suggested to Waber that some of his drawings might be right for children’s books, a vote of confidence that spurred him to mail some samples to publishers.
Houghton Mifflin published his first book, Lorenzo, about a curious fish, in 1961. Waber has said that his fondness for New York and for his and Ethel’s first home in that city inspired The House on East 88th Street (1962), the book in which Lyle, the popular crocodile, is discovered in the Primm family’s bathtub. In addition, Waber shared in various interviews that reading aloud to his own three children, and accompanying them to the children’s room at the library, were other catalysts for his immersion in the world of children’s literature. Another favorite is Ira Sleeps Over, published in 1972.
Waber suffered from macular degeneration later in his career and had been unable to draw for several years due to the eye disorder. But in 2010 Waber collaborated with his daughter Paulis, also an artist, to create Lyle Walks the Dogs, in which Lyle masters a new job: dog walker. The elder Waber frequently described Lyle’s features and feelings to Paulis and was able to see her artwork through magnifying equipment during the book-making process, according to Houghton Mifflin.
Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library, CA, has been awarded the Public Library Association’s (PLA) Innovations in Literacy Award for its “Reading Rockets” youth literacy program. The library is one of only eight public libraries in the nation to receive this honor, which recognizes unique and inventive literacy programs that have a significant and measurable impact on the community the library serves.
Reading Rockets was formed by creatively combining the library’s LAMP Literacy and Project NEO (a nonprofit organization) resources to provide free one-on-one tutoring to children in 2nd through 6th grades to strengthen vital literacy skills and build confident readers.
As part of the Innovations in Literacy Award, Reading Rockets coordinator and Senior Library Clerk, Diana Garcia, will be awarded $1,000 for registration and travel to the Public Library Association’s 2014 Conference in Indianapolis, March 11–15, 2014, where she will represent the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library. Garcia was instrumental in the planning and execution of the Reading Rockets program and was the author of the article submitted to the Public Library Association contest on behalf of the library. For more information on the PLA Award please visit http://www.ala.org/pla/awards/literacy.
Fleming, Candace. On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave . Fic. Schwartz & Wade/Random, 2012. 200p. $16.99. 978-0-375-86781-1. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-9.
Sixteen-year-old Mike is running late and speeding when a girl appears in his headlights. He stops and gives her a lift and later finds out shes been dead for fifty-six years. Yes, its an old trope, but only the opening story of ten, as Mike listens to the tales of 9 teen ghosts. Set in the Chicago area and nine different time periods, each story has a smattering of period details, phrases, and references. Although most have macabre moments and elements of horror, none are gratuitously gruesome or violent. Sinister forces such as threatening wallpaper, malevolent hood ornaments, and an evil mirror permeate the tales. Fleming borrows aspects of classic horror such as W. W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw, but she cites her sources of inspiration in an appended author’s note. Perfect for booktalking or reading aloud, this is an excellent collection for younger readers who want a really scary story as well as for older reluctant readers.
Linda Perkins, Independent
Summer reading program themes can be used in developing Do-It-Yourself programs. In California, the 2013 summer reading program materials from the California Library Association celebrate “Reading is So Delicious!” Here are some ideas for programs on that theme.
Icebreaker Activity: Sing Raffi’s “Apples and Bananas,” or read Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French.
- Chef’s hat made out of white poster board and tissue paper (spoonful.com/crafts/chef-hats-craft)
- Handprint aprons (spoonful.com/crafts/handprint-apron)
- Make necklaces by stringing Cheerios on a string
- Vegetable prints (www.kinderplanet.com/vegprint.htm)
For more craft ideas, check out: http://ireadprogram.pbworks.com/w/page/51668738/Children’s%20Crafts
- Help Pig Get to the Pancakes, a maze based on Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Pig a Pancake (mousecookiebooks.com/activities/pdfs/findpigspancake.pdf)
- Pizza Box Tic-tac-toe (excited2learn.com/blog/pizza-box-crafts-tic-tac-toe-game)
- Play the popular board game “Candy Land.”
- Vegetable Ring Toss: Use three embroidery hoops. Player tosses hoops, one at a time, at a pumpkin, pineapple, or other large fruit or vegetable sitting on the ground. Prizes awarded to those who can ring the vegetable.
For more game ideas, check out: http://ireadprogram.pbworks.com/w/page/51477165/Games
Refreshments: Fruit slices or frozen juice bars are healthy and tasty.
Movie Showing: If you want to show a full-length movie highlighting cooking, try Ratatouille.
For more “Reading Is So Delicious” ideas, see the 2013 California Summer Reading Program website (cla-net.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=504).
Thomas, Jan. Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy. Jan Thomas, Illus. Pic. Bk. Beach Lane, 2012. p. $12.99. 978-1-4424-4276-4. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-K.
The Brave Cowboy loves to sing lullabies for his calf friends but sometimes finds it hard to be as brave as his name might suggest. He mistakes sticks, flowers, and even his friends for all sorts of scary critters, but when a big bad wolf makes an appearance the Brave Cowboy finds out just how useful his lullabies can be. This picture book will appeal to a wide range of preschoolers through kindergartners, with Thomas winning combination of digitally rendered, cartoon-influenced illustrations, emphasizing solid colors, bold and eye-catching shapes, and laugh-out-loud silly humor. It makes a great storytime choice, offering a singalong opportunity in addition to its satisfying story. Music to accompany the Brave Cowboy’s lullaby is available on the author’s website.
Ted McCoy, Oakland PL