Author Archive

Diverse Books for Kids and Teens

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Educator Rudine Sims Bishop wrote of literature as “mirrors” and “windows” where we can both see ourselves and see the lives of other people (you can read her full thoughts here). Reading a wide variety of authentic books about different people can help kids and teens connect with others and with a global society. Here are just a few of my recommendations:


Picture Books:

martin's big wordsMartin’s Big Words

February is African American History month, and this picture book biography helps celebrate this champion of human rights.





to marketTo Market! To Market!

Take a trip to an Indian market with this picture book. Its unique size and layout is great for talking about artistic choices with children and its vivid colors and typography create an interactive reading experience.



Chapter Books for Kids:

turtle of oman

The Turtle of Oman

Aref is a third-grader living in Oman when his father is accepted at the University of Michigan for graduate study. But Aref is heartbroken at leaving his home in Oman and his beloved Siddi, his grandfather. Will Aref be able to hold on to everything he loves about Oman while still looking forward to a new life in Michigan?




one crazy summer

One Crazy Summer

Combining humor with a vivid portrayal of growing up African American during the 1960s and the Black Panther movement, Rita Williams-Garcia tells the tale of the intrepid and spunky eleven-year-old Delphine and her two sisters as they navigate their relationship with their mother and learn a few things about themselves. Follow it up with more tales about the sisters in the sequels P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama.



Books for Teens:

tequila wormThe Tequila Worm

Fourteen-year-old Sofia lives in a beloved close-knit Mexican community in Texas but also dreams of a world outside her home. She works hard to prove herself and ends up being accepted to a prestigious boarding school in Austin. The storytelling traditions of her family and community help her to face racism, an unfamiliar world, and growing up in this nuanced and rich novel based on the author’s personal experiences.




march book 1March: Book One

Based on Congressman John Lewis’s experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, this graphic novel is the first in a planned trilogy capturing the images and words of a movement that changed American history and one that still sparks calls to action for human rights and dignity today. Continue the story with March: Book Two.




American Born Chineseamerican born chinese

This graphic novel illustrates three intertwining tales that come together in a powerful demonstration of belonging and identity. With Gene Luen Yang just appointed the U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, it’s a great time to read or reread his work!




1919 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet with Israeli and Palestinian ties, shines a light on the Middle East, its conflicts, and the voices and hopes of its people in this collection of poetry.





Check out this booklist for more recommendations or ask a librarian!



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It’s Raining Picture Books!

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

We’ve had a deluge of great new picture books coming through recently at KDL. Here’s a few of my favorites:friends

Friends by Mies van Hout offers a lovely take on one-word concepts, illustrating words like “cuddle” and “fight” with friendly, colorful monsters etched in black. Don’t miss her first book, Happy, either!

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle is striking in its use of space as it tells the delicate tale of a little ballerina and a flamingo engaged in dance. Check this one out for the illustrations and lift-the-flaps design.

the darkThe Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Jon Klassen is one of my favorite illustrators, and he’s been getting much love all around after winning the 2013 Caldecott Medal for This is Not My Hat. Pair him with Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and you get a quirky, yet always honest tale of one little boy’s journey to co-exist with the dark. An outstanding book that tackles nighttime fears beautifully.

Bluebird by Bob Staake is another book that handles a tough concept in an innovative way. Staake’s wordless book is done almost in monochrome, with blues and grays predominating, as he tells the tale of a lonely boy who finds, and then loses, a friend in a little blue bird. Through deceptively simple illustrations, Staake demonstrates how broken the world can be, but also how we can transcend that same brokenness.BLUEBIRD_560

 From Bob Staake’s Bluebird (2013)

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Winter Film Read-a-Likes

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

While people are waiting to unwrap those gifts this holiday season, some of us eagerly anticipate the unveiling of a new batch of films. The winter months are especially full of great book-to-film remakes and period dramas and the buzz of those in the making.

JenniferDonnellyLes Miserables, starring Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, hits theaters Christmas Day. In the meantime, check out Victor Hugo’s original or Jennifer Donnelly’s great teen literature homage to the French Revolution, Revolution. Brush up on the music by picking up the Broadway musical soundtrack, and put your name in for the new movie’s soundtrack, now on order!



gatsby-posterThe Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, initailly set for Christmas Day, has a new release date of May 2013. If that seems like a long wait, try Libba Bray’s The Diviners for a horror twist on the the Roaring ’20s; Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things series for a look at the lives of three teenage girls amidst the glamour of the Jazz Age; or Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility for an intriguing read set amidst early 1930s New York.

Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations is also in the works. For a clever telling reminiscent of it, try Terry Pratchett’s new book Dodger.

12747188For Downton Abbey fans, the new season returns in January. While you’re waiting, check out Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame and stay tuned for the soon-to-be published Cinders & Sapphires: At Somerton, out January 22, 2013, for more British lower- and upper-class drama. You can also check out our “If You Like Downton Abbey…” booklist. If you’re in the mood for an American twist, pick up Edith Wharton’s classics The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence for Gilded Age sagas of social ambition, lost dreams and playing by the rules of society. Rumors of an American “Downton Abbey” in the making, called The Gilded Age, makes brushing up on this era in history a must for any fan.



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Celebrate Picture Book Month!

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

November is Picture Book Month! Picture Book Month was established as an international literacy initiative in 2010, partly in reaction to a New York Times article stating that printed picture books were becoming obsolete. Since then, authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, and booksellers have trumpeted the importance of picture books!

Paul O. Zelinsky, illustrator of picture books like Z is for Moose, championed picture books, saying “Picture books are a unique form of storytelling, and storytelling is at the core of how we learn to experience the world. Picture books are the bridge to a life of reading.” Read his full statement and other words from authors and illustrators here.

Kent District Library has many resources to encourage a life of reading, and plenty of picture books to go around to encourage early literacy. Check out your favorite picture book or one of these storytime favorites and share it today!


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Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Awards 2013 Predictions

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The colder weather and the influx of new Christmas picture books has us thinking ahead to January, which, along with snow, brings the announcement of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Awards! We’re so excited about the announcement that we’ve put together our own predictions. So read on, go check one out, make your own prediction, and then tune in in January for the winners!

Newbery 2013:

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schiltz (Newbery Award medalist for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!)

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (Stead was 2011’s Newbery Award medalist for When You Reach Me)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (Newbery honored for The Watsons Go to Birmingham)

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


Caldecott 2013

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (another contender could be Erin Stead’s illustrations in Julie Fogliano’s And Then It’s Spring)

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (other contenders illustrated by Klassen could be the gorgeous House Held Up By Trees, written by Ted Kooser, or the darkly funny This is Not My Hat, written by Klassen and a follow-up to his I Want My Hat Back).

Chole and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex

The Isomniacs by Karina Wolf, illustrated by Sean and Ben Hilts (first-time picture book creators, which is always interesting!)

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Concept book that would be an interesting win!)


Printz Award 2013:

Crow by Barbara Wright

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Besides being a popular social media presence, Green also holds the title of Printz award winner for the poignant  Looking for Alaska and honored for An Abundance of Katherines)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (another heavy hitter: Stiefvater was honored last year by the Printz committee for The Scorpio Races)

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (Lanagan is already a Printz award winner for Black Juice)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Diviners by Libba Bray (Printz awarded for Going Bovine)



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Art and Your Library

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

If you haven’t checked out the great art downtown, now’s the time! While the art display only runs through October 7, there are some great books and movies at your local KDL branch that will keep you inspired all year round. To start you off, here are some of my favorite art entries this year paired with the books or movies they reminded me of as I walked downtown. Click on the art entry’s name to view a picture of it!

Both Richard Morse’s “Stick-to-it-ive-ness: Unwavering pertinancy; perseverance” and Jessica Bohus’s “Running on Air” reminded me of  The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This wonderfully lyrical novel tells the intertwining story of nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly. Sean is the returning champion of the Scorpio Races, an annual event on the island where daring young men catch and race the dangerous water horses. Puck Connolly, the only girl competitor in the history of the Races, needs the money a win would bring to save her home and keep her family together; Sean needs the money to make a life for himself. Along the way, they find they share a love for the island, a love for the water horses, and a love for each other. The novel was awarded a Printz Honor Award in 2012, and film rights have been purchased for a movie release in 2015.

Andrew J. Woodstock’s “Tuskeegee Airman” and Richard Mitchell’s “Grandpa Morgan Tuskeegee Airman” fit perfectly with the recent movie Red Tails, which dramatizes the struggle and courage of the African American air pilots during World War II. Mitchell’s grandfather was part of the unit.

Adonna Khare’s “Elephants” is a must-see work and is my favorite this year. Her work reminded me of the artwork of Arthur Rackham, who illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales among others. Look for the funny fish with two legs, then go check out Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. See if you can find the fish footman in Through the Looking Glass!



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Banned Books Week: Invisible Man

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Banned Books Week is September 30-October 6. Sponsored by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. This year is the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week! To celebrate the freedom to read, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite banned and challenged books throughout the week.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is narrated by an unnamed African American man, who tells of his journey from a Southern African American college to New York’s Harlem as he searches for an identity to call his own. Along the way, he encounters strange and eccentric characters, must learn to navigate situations that seem to have double meanings, and struggles with who he is in and apart from society. One of the best novels about the intersection of race, individual identity, and contemporary America, Ellison’s novel was challenged and banned for profanity and images of violence and sexuality. It also won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. Read it for the poignant prologue and epilogue alone.

Favorite line:

All of my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. . . I was looking for myself and asking everyone else but myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else seems to have been born with: That I am no one but myself.”

Where to go next: Richard Wright‘s Black Boy


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The Greatest Show on Earth!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

With the fall comes classes, extracurriculars, work and meetings, so life can feel a bit like a three-ring circus. It also means the Ringling Brothers circus is back in town September 20-23! Thinking of checking out a show, or just want to experience it vicariously? Check out these great reads that center around circuses, oddities and the extraordinary:

Sara Gruen writes about the tensions, surprises and the life behind the seeming glamour in her novel Water for Elephants. This engrossing read follows the life of the brilliant but cruel animal trainer, August; his beautiful equestrian star wife, Marlena; the young man, Jacob Jankowski, who falls in love with her; and Rosie, the elephant that changes their lives forever. Multiple formats are available, as well as a movie based on the book!



For those interested in the  human “oddities” of circuses, check out Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Sixteen-year-old Jacob finds himself with his ornithology-loving father on a remote island near Wales, where he discovers the ruins of a peculiar orphange that housed a strange kind of children. In a fantastical journey reminscient of the tesseract time travel of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Jacob sets out to meet these children and discovers himself along the way. Real photographs Riggs found in archives accompany the book, giving it a vintage and otherwordly feel. Rumor has it that a movie may be in the works!


For younger readers, try Splendors and Glooms by Newbery Award winner Laura Amy Schiltz. Schiltz tells the story of two orphaned children, Lizzie and Parse, apprenticed to a mysterious puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, who makes his puppets seem to come to life. Their lives change when a rich young heiress disappears and all signs point to Grisini. A bespelling story!


Other Circus Favorites:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Adult)

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (Young Adult)

Lion Boy by Zizou Corder (Juvenile Fiction)

Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (Picture Book)

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleishman and Kevin Hawkes (Picture Book)


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