Children's Bookshelf - January 2014
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Go On A Real Life Adventure Through Reading
by Cheryl Donahue

The Common Core Curriculum is on the radar of educators and parents. The curriculum’s instructional content focuses on learning relevant to the real world. Librarians everywhere are ready to provide support by stocking their shelves with the best new nonfiction to capture the imagination, entertain and enlighten. Many readers are drawn to nonfiction: the real, true story that answers questions of when, where and why. Facts are fun!

If Dinosaurs Lived in My Town by Marianne Plumridge, combines actual photographs with luminous drawings of dinosaurs by Bob Eggleton. Whimsical font prompts questions that are answered by a text box filled with fascinating facts. Plumridge and Eggleton have created an engaging way to learn about dinosaurs, dig up facts and inspire kids to imagine exciting possibilities.

Real-life adventures continue in Sophie Scott Goes South. Based on the author’s journey to the Antarctic on an icebreaker boat, Alison Lester’s book accompanies a precocious 9-year-old on the voyage of a lifetime. Photographs are paired with delightful illustrations revealing the world of icebergs, penguins, whales and seals.

The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson and Dusan Petricic also spins a story around an actual event. In 2007, premier violinist Joshua Bell played his priceless Stradivarius in a Washington D.C. metro station. A mere seven out of 1,000 passersby stopped to enjoy the music. In this tale, a young boy is swept away by the music and feels its power deep inside. The story imparts an important lesson: pause to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

One of the most mysterious places on earth is featured in The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granström. The site is introduced to children through lively, cartoon-like drawings describing prehistoric ways of life and includes explanations of the construction of the monument. The book is easy to understand, giving its audience plenty to think about.

Marion Dane Bauer’s new series 50 States to Celebrate helps newly independent readers learn highlights about the states. Titles include Celebrating Texas: 50 States to Celebrate, Celebrating New York: 50 States to Celebrate and more. Combining pop culture, geography, travel and history, kids learn that there’s much to discover in every state!

Middle grade readers rock on a compelling journey spanning music from the roaring ‘20s into the swinging ‘60s. Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine teamed up to write Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World. Each musical artist featured is represented in the CDs included with the book. Hits sung by artists like Louis Armstrong and Joni Mitchell give children an overview of diverse popular music of the past.

Uncover a real treasure in Call of the Klondike: A True Gold Rush Adventure by David Meissner and Kim Richardson. This voyage features shimmering golden papers and actual photographs from the times. Filled with danger, courage and foolhardiness, journal entries, newspaper articles and letters bring the gold rush of the 1890s to life. Learn about the hardships faced by the prospectors. This book is a true golden nugget.

Do you have an artist in the family? Kids can create their own fun while reading Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. Graphic designer Chip Kidd leads the way through the bold and inspiring world of commercial art. From super-cool book jackets to the history of different fonts, Kidd has created a delightful visual feast.

The Simsbury Library has materials to check out combining new technology with print. They currently circulate Leap Frog tag readers, Playaway bookpacks, and book/CD packs to reinforce reading skills. They have a new collection of media enhanced books presenting useful information on a wide array of subjects. The books are filled with quizzes, activities and options for further research including websites and videos to explore online at home. The library also has Nook eReaders for middle graders and Bookflix, an online collection of interactive storybooks for preschool through elementary aged children. Young readers can access ebooks through the library’s website using Overdrive, a digital lending product.  Simsbury Library’s mission is to give its patrons the tools to develop essential real-world knowledge.

The Simsbury Library is located at 725 Hopmeadow Street. For more information, call 860-588-7663 ext. 2116 or visit

Cheryl Donahue is the Head of Children's Services at the Simsbury Library.




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