Children's Bookshelf - May 2016
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Growth and Change
by Luis Chavez-Brumell

Parents and educators must constantly help their children navigate various life changes. The old adage “April showers bring May flowers” is often used to teach the change in seasons, but it can also serve to teach that change in general is a natural and inevitable part of life. The following books incorporate vibrant visuals with warm weather subjects such as flowers and insects. However, all of the books feature characters that experience or witness change and, as a result, learn more about themselves and the world around them. Here are the staff selections for the month of May from Young Minds and Family Learning at the New Haven Free Public Library.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is the story of a young mouse with a long floral name. Chrysanthemum begins school, but is soon wilted by bullying about her unusual name. With the help of her music teacher, Chrysanthemum begins to appreciate her name again and blossoms at school.

The bilingual book Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la Niña de las Flores by Jorge Argueta tells the story of Xochitl and her family as they adapt to their new lives in San Francisco. They use their love of flowers to reconnect to their home in El Salvador and their new neighborhood, transforming a backyard full of garbage into a nursery.

In Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow, see flowers in every color sprout from a garden planted by a mother and child. The book moves from brown bulbs and dirt through early green leaves to lush flowerbeds teaching both colors and flower names along the way.

In May, as spring starts to turn to summer, kids spend more time outside in nature. The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer tells the story of a boy who finds a salamander in the woods and wants to take it home — but can a salamander live in a bedroom? It will need moss and rocks to hide in, and insects to eat, and trees and ponds ... As the boy imagines his room transforming into a beautifully surreal forest, the illustrations perfectly capture a sense of wonder at the small things in nature we can find in our own backyards.

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle captures the work of Maria Sibylla Merian, a German artist and naturalist during the 1600s. Through careful observation, young Maria studies and documents the transitions caterpillars make into “summer birds” or butterflies. Her notes and beautifully detailed paintings of insects and other small animals were later published and helped to dispel a lot of misconceptions and superstitions about butterflies, like the belief that they sprang fully formed from the mud!

Events at the New Haven Free Public Library

The New Haven Free Public Library offers a variety of programs to unleash the potential of young minds and families. Visit our website for a complete list of programs including Stay and Plays, Chess Club, LEGO® Club and much more. Here are some May highlights at all of our locations to engage the entire family! 

Make a Magic Treehouse, Saturday, May 7, 2-3 p.m., Ives Main Library, 133 Elm Street, New Haven. 203-946-8129. In honor of Magic Treehouse author Mary Pope Osborne’s birthday, children will have the opportunity to make their very own cardboard treehouse to decorate with items related to the Magic Treehouse book series.

Artists Studio @ Fair Haven, Wednesday, May 11, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Avenue, New Haven. 203-946-8115. Local artists, sponsored by Arte Inc., provide lessons to children, ages 10-17. Call to register.

Angry Birds, Tuesday, May 17, 5 p.m., Wilson Library, 303 Washington Avenue, New Haven. 203-946-2228. In anticipation of the Angry Birds movie, which opens on May 20, the Wilson Library will be having an Angry Birds inspired program where children will have the opportunity to create their own buildings to determine whether they can withstand the crash of an Angry Bird! Call to register.

Africa Is Me!, Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m., Stetson Library, 200 Dixwell Avenue, New Haven. 203-946-8119. Join Hanan Hameen of the Artsucation Academy and the Village in African dance, drumming, arts and crafts and education!

Edible Book and Tea Party, Saturday, May 21, 2-4 p.m., Mitchell Library, Harrison Street, New Haven. 203-946-8117. In honor of the release of the film Alice Through the Looking Glass, patrons are encouraged to make edible creations inspired by their favorite books to bring to a tea party hosted at the library. Advance registration is required.

New Haven Free Public Library Readmobile!, Saturday, May 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit the Readmobile at the 19th Annual Westville ArtWalk. Borrow a book or sign up for a library card!

Luis Chavez-Brumell is the Manager of Young Minds and Family Learning at the New Haven Free Public Library.




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