Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mystical, Magical Mayhem: Picture Books & More

dragon-head-silhouette-mdPicture Books & More is a four-week program especially for first and second graders, held Tuesdays or Wednesdays in March. Each session kids will hear terrific tales of myths and monsters, magic and mayhem; they’ll create wild and wonderful works of art; and they’ll get to eat super snacks and terrific treats!


Tuesdays March 4, 11, 18, and 25 (3:30-4:30)magicwand
Wednesdays March 5, 12, 19, and 26 (2:30-3:30)

Register online, call 415-389-4292 x4741, or come to the Children’s Room.

To register for Tuesday sessions, click here.
To register for Wednesday sessions, click here.

And the winners are….

I don’t know which is more fun for me, the time leading up to the annual ALA’s Youth Media Awards or the actual day of the announcements. I love visiting all the mock Newbery and Caldecott web sites, reading about what books are getting buzz, and then choosing those as my next books to read. While many awards are given, the Newbery and the Caldecott are the most coveted. The John Newbery Medal recognizes a book for the most outstanding contribution to Children’s Literature; the Randolph Caldecott Medal awards the most distinguished American picture book for children.

On Monday, I woke at dawn and hurried to my computer with my cup of coffee to listen to the live broadcast of the winners from the ALA Winter Meeting in Philadephia. Although, some of my favorites weren’t recognized, I was happy with the Selection Committee’s choices. I would not hesitate to put any of these books in the hands of our readers:

Newbery Medalist
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell
When Flora’s neighbor accidentally vacuums up a squirrel with her new high-powered vacuum, cynical Flora uses the lessons she learned from the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You! to revive him. I couldn’t be happier about this choice: child-friendly, funny, a mixture of comics and text, and so imaginative. This is Kate DiCamillo’s second Newbery, she also won in 2004 for The Tale of Despereaux.

Newbery Honors
Doll Bones by Holly Black
I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s definitely on my list. Black weaves a spooky story (yes, complete with a ghost, a creepy doll, and adolescent angst) that keenly shows the struggles adolescents have leaving their childhood behind as they enter adulthood. According to School Library Journal, “this novel is a chilling ghost story, a gripping adventure, and a heartwarming look at the often-painful pull of adulthood.” Plus it was one of Molly’s favorites!

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Having lived in Wisconsin for close to ten years, I loved reading a book set in rural Wisconsin in the 1870s. While that probably would have been enough for me, readers will be captivated by 13-year-old Georgia’s strong voice and her determination to solve the mystery of her missing and presumed-dead sister, Agatha. This one was on the list of Lauren’s favorites from 2013.

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
This book follows the life of second-grader Billy Miller. It’s funny and poignant at times, and Billy’s adventures are wonderful in their simplicity and innocence. This is a great read-aloud, especially for first and second graders. Henkes also won a Geisel Honor this year for his wonderful early reader, Penny and Her Marble.

Paperboy by Vince Vawter
It’s the summer of 1959 in segregated Memphis, and 11-year-old Victor is taking over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July. He has a mean fast ball, so getting the papers to the front door is easy, but speaking to his customers is another thing entirely: Victor can barely say his own name without stuttering. You’ll feel Victor’s pain as he not only must collect from the customers on his route, but when he encounters others in the neighborhood that put his life in danger. I hope the Newbery Honor gives this book the visibility it deserves.

Randolph Caldecott Medal
Locomotive by Brian Floca
All Aboard! Every turn of the page of this year’s Caldecott winner will make you feel like you’re riding on the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. Booklist’s review says it best when describing the breathtaking illustrations: “just as heart pounding are Floca’s bold, detailed watercolors, which swap massive close-ups of barreling locomotives with sweeping bird’s-eye views that show how even these metal giants were dwarfed by nature. It’s impossible to turn a page without learning something, but it’s these multiple wow moments that will knock readers from their chairs.” Train enthusiasts new and old will pour over every page. A great read aloud, too, with the booming sounds of the train and the engineer interspersed throughout.

This year the Caldecott Honors went to three great picture books, all of which are wordless! Journey by debut author/illustrator Aaron Becker, Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner, who with this book adds a second Honor to his three previous Caldecott Medals (for Flotsam, The Three Pigs, and Tuesday). All three of these appeared on our Staff Favorites List and are truly wonderful books.


Four Fantastic Adventures: New Books for Older Readers

THE GREAT TROUBLE_cover imageThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

Based on actual events that occurred during the 1854 cholera outbreak, The Great Trouble transports readers back in time to a bleak 19th century London. The story follows Eel, a down on his luck orphan who is struggling to get by on honest work and the kindness of others. When people in his neighborhood start to get sick, he seeks the help of one of his employers, Dr. Snow, to look into the cases. While gathering evidence with Dr. Snow gather that shows how cholera is spread, Eel must also keep a huge secret while staying away from Fisheye Bill, a dangerous man out to get him. The Great Trouble is a highly successful blend of historical fact, historical fiction, and mystery that is sure to please many readers. (ages 10-14)

RooftoppersRooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

In the aftermath of a shipwreck off the coast of England, a man discovers a baby floating in a cello case. He decides to keep her as his own and names her Sophie. Sophie grows up under the loving, albeit odd care, of Charles, a scholarly old bachelor that lets her wear trousers and skip brushing her hair. When social services decides that Charles is unfit to raise a young lady, Sophie and Charles flee England in search of her biological mother in Paris. With no information to go on other than a gut feeling and the label on the inside of her cello case, she and Charles have no one to turn to for help until Sophie discovers a secret world on the rooftops of Paris. Matteo and the other rooftop dwellers lead Sophie on a whirlwind adventure to track down the sound of Sophie’s mother’s cello. A charming story of friendship, love, and above all things hope, Rooftoppers will whisk readers off to an almost fairytale-like Paris that they will not want to leave. (ages 8-12)

southpolepigThe Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz

For a spirited pig named Flora, life trapped in a pigpen is unbearable. A barn cat named Luna serves as Flora’s only source of news from the outside world until she finds a loose board in her pen and escapes! After running through a cornfield she spies sled dogs training and decides that she is destined to join them. Flora believes that she is getting her wish when she is sold to the captain of a ship on its way to Antarctica but instead of becoming a sled pig she has been brought along as dinner. Flora must rely on her friends and her own courage to escape the knife and find a way to prove her worth before it is too late. Readers will be rooting for Flora every step of her adventure. This is a pig that proves that dreams can come true if only we are brave enough to reach for them. (ages 9-12)

eastsunEast of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris 

In this magical new take on an old fairytale, Berneen and her family are refugees living in poverty when the white bear from Berneen’s dreams comes to take her away. When Berneen goes to live with the bear in an enchanted palace the story moves from the real world to a fairytale world. Berneen and the bear become great friends but what she doesn’t know is that the bear has been put under a magic spell by a troll whom he refused to marry. When Berneen accidently breaks the spell, the bear, now turned back into a prince, must return to the troll’s castle to marry her. With only the directions that the castle is east of the sun, west of the moon, she sets off on a quest to find the bear and save him from his fate. Fairy tale lovers will find this rendition beautifully written and simply magical. (ages 9-11)

-Sarah Beth

Groovin’ with Teacher Barb

teacherbarbIt’s dynamic music education for the preschool set! With songs that rock, Teacher Barb will help kids create rhythms and find their voices. The program will meet on four Mondays: March 3, 10, 17 and 24, from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. Please plan to come to all four sessions.

Ages 2 to 5 – Advanced registration required. Click here to register.

Cost: Free

Location: Creekside Room, Mill Valley Public Library
375 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, California 94941

Bears, Lions, and a T-Rex: New Books for Younger Readers

bearBig Bear’s Big Boat by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
In this sequel to Little Bear’s Little Boat, Big Bear has grown too big for his little boat so he decides to make himself a new one that is just like his old boat, only bigger. However, his friends Beaver, Otter, and Blue Heron all have suggestions to help make the big boat even better. Bear adds a mast, a top deck, and a cabin at the advice of his friends, but now it’s no longer just like his little boat. Bunting’s delightful story emphasizes following one’s dreams and being true to yourself while Carpenter’s illustrations convey Big Bear’s hard work and happiness in achieving his dreams.

duskDusk by Uri Shulevitz
On a cold winter day, a boy with his dog and his grandfather go for a walk. When the sun starts to set, the boy is saddened by the short days but, when they trio get back to the city, they notice people are still out and about. While some are going home, others are going to shop — a man with a cravat, a woman with a hat, a retired acrobat, and even a visitor from the planet Zataplat shop and walk around the city at dusk. As the skies grow dark, the streets begin to brighten with lamps and lights that make the city “as light as day.” Shulevitz’s brief text makes way for his breathtaking illustrations of a city in the winter, celebrating all types of holidays. A pleasure to read whether the sun is out or not.

WhenLionsRoarWhen Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka
A young child is surrounded by loud and frightening noises on a family outing to the zoo: a lion’s loud roar, a monkey’s high screech, and thunder and lightning scare and startle the child. Instead of succumbing to fear, the child stops, sits, and declares “Go away. Scary! Go away.” Now, the sun is out and life’s simple pleasures calm and reassure the child that everything is alright. Raschka’s illustrations display the child’s mood shifts from gloomy and scared to calm and happy through colors and lighting. A great read for adults and children who want to get over their fears.

chick coverChick-O-Saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein
Little Chick wants to play in the tree house, but because his ancestors aren’t known to be mighty and brave, the other little animals send him away. Father Rooster shows him a picture of Grandpa Rooster digging up a large bone: perhaps it was an ancient ancestor? Little Chick and his dad do some digging, and discover the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Feeling braver, Little Chick calls himself Chick-O-Saurus Rex and saves the other little animals from a nasty wolf! Chick-O-Saurus Rex is a fun tale about discovering your identity through history and overcoming bullies. An author’s note at the end explains to readers that scientists have confirmed how the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s closest living relative is, indeed, the chicken.


Recycled Valentines Craft Program

3-d-valentine-lgSave the planet and recycle the love! Make beautiful Valentine cards from colorful throw-aways.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

FREE – all ages welcome – no signup needed

Creekside Room, Mill Valley Public Library
375 Throckmorton Avenue
Mill Valley, California 94941

Marin Theatre Company’s Rapunzel

Rapunzel lives with her loving yet overprotective grandmother, Nana. Year after year, Nana builds their tower higher and higher to protect them from the big, scary world. And every year, Rapunzel’s hair grows longer (and so does her curiosity about the world outside). When a local boy named Ra befriends Rapunzel, she finally gets the courage to explore the world around her despite her fear of the unknown.

Don’t miss Marin Theatre Company’s live stage production of everyone’s favorite fairy tale! All ages welcome, no sign-up necessary.

February 2, 2014, 11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
Main Reading Room, Mill Valley Public Library

Stories & Science for Kindergartners

plantKindergartners: hear sensational stories and perform hands-on science experiments! Learn about the science of color, water, plants, and more! Healthy snacks provided!

Stories & Science will be held on four Thursdays: March 6, 13, 20 and 27, from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m.

For kindergartners only. Advanced registration required. Must sign up for each program separately. To register, call (415) 389-4292 x4741 or sign up on line, below:

Click here to register for March 6
Click here to register for March 13
Click here to register for March 20
Click here to register for March 27

Cost: Free
Location: Creekside Room, Mill Valley Public Library
375 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, California 94941 



2013 Staff Favorites for Older Readers

We asked the Children’s Staff to tell us their favorite books of 2013. Here are our favorites for older readers. Check out our selections for younger readers here.




The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Zebra Forest by Adina Gewirtz

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan



 cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13better-nate-than-ever-coverghoulishsongknots one-came-home-cover

The Real Boy by Anna Ursu

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Ghoulish Song by William Alexander

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff



The Screaming Staircase USwildboyDollBones LookUpCover

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (audio)

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Look Up! Bird-watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette Cate



The Screaming Staircase USlemoncellos-library-press

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Sarah Beth


 irissidekicked RUMPCoverHighRessylo

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

Rump: the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

SYLO by D.J. MacHale




Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond




Stick Dog by Tom Watson

Mister Max by Cynthia Voight



truth Gantos_Cover2 mandela Print

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLaughlan

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia


Pajama Story Time

pajama_story_time_imageMonday, January 13, 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Wear your PJs and bring your best stuffed friend to the library for a rousing yet relaxing evening reading of favorite picture books new and old, on the second Monday of every month. (All ages, Children’s Room.)