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The Last Books Before Kindergarten: A Few More Recommendations from my Son and I before September

4 Aug

I have written two previous posts (click here and here) about the fun and important campaign 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which encourages parents to read to newborns, infants, and toddlers to foster an early love of reading as well as an important bonding opportunity.  Of course grandparents, older siblings, cool aunts, and other caregivers are also encouraged to help meet the goal that before Kindergarten every child has 1,000 books read to them.  As we get ready for my son’s first day of Kindergarten this autumn, we continue to read together; one of the best parts of my day is reading him books before bed.  Several books from the previous post continue to be favorites, but here are several more that we’d like to recommend.  Now is the perfect time to check them out and sign up your child(ren) and yourself for our summer reading challenge (hobokenlibrary.beanstack.org) where reading doesn’t just entertain and educate, but also wins you prizes!

Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

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You may have heard of First World Problems, well they are nothing compared to penguin’s problems.  Jory John’s Penguin Problems look at the troublesome annoyance that plague a grumpy little penguin.  The message about focusing on the larger positives in one’s life instead of minor daily aggravations is one that I find important to be reminded of not just for my son, but for myself as well.

The Secret Life of Pets by Dennis R. Shealy

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The Secret Life of Pets is my son’s favorite book right now.  We have to read it every night, and as we start him on his journey of reading himself, he is beginning to pick out sight words and sometimes will attempt to read the book to me.  The book is based on the popular animated movie and in my opinion is better since it focuses on the best part the cute and quirky animals that live in a New York City apartment building and what they do when their owners are away, and leaves out the convoluted rescue plot that makes up the second half of the film.  My son’s favorite pets are the zaftig cat Chloe and the hyper Pomeranian Gidget.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

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Another book on almost nightly rotation continues to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Tommy is also a fan of other books by Eric Carle as well.  There are many books that emphasize the special bond between moms and their children, but this is the perfect choice for all the dads out there.  As Mister Seahorse swims around waiting for his own babies to emerge from his pouch he encounters the other paternal caregivers of the fish world including Mr. Tilapia, who shelters his eggs in his mouth.  Mr. Seahorse also swims right past some camouflaged fish as well who are depicted “hiding” behind clever translucent foregrounds.  This is often Tommy’s choice for times his dad reads to him.

The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

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Who is creating the beautiful topiary around town?  My son loves a good mystery and has a good heart so he can relate to the little boy in the story who not only finds out who the mysterious man who is creating the arboreal masterpieces is, but also helps him with his work in this charming picture book by the Fan brothers.

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems

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The quirky rhymes and bright colors are enjoyable fun as a cute little frog living in France attempts to run her very first errand with tongue twisting hilarity in Nanette’s Baguette, a recent work by the always popular Mo Willems.  My son is a fan of both fresh made baguettes as well as this silly story.

The Man in the Moon and The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce (Books 1 and 2 Guardians of Childhood Series)

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The Guardians of Childhood Series has been adapted as animated feature, but even more engaging are the original stories.  The first two in the series, The Man in the Moon and The Sandman were gifts from my artistically inclined Aunt and Uncle and the illustrations are gorgeous.  The Man in the Moon tells the story of the very first guardian of childhood who started out as a little orphan on the moon.  My favorite of the two The Sandman tells the story of the guardian who brings children good dreams.

The Gingerbread Man by Nancy Nolte and illustrated by Richard Scarry

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There are many types of literary gingerbread men to choose from including The Library Gingerbread Man (Dotti Enderle), The Ninjabread Man (C.J. Leigh), or Gingerbread Baby (Jan Brett), but my son frequently devours the classic Golden Book about the constantly on the run version that is the same one my mom would read to me as a child and was one of her favorites to have her mom read to her.  This is one of the early books illustrated by Scarry, author/illustrator of the popular Busytown series.

Biscuit Loves School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

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My son was introduced to the Biscuit series about an energetic little puppy by my mom (aka Meme to my son) and any time he sleeps over Meme and Pepe’s house she would have to read him a Biscuit book before bed. He has started working to read a few at home to himself.  You may want to start your children with Hello, Biscuit which introduces the little pup and explains how he got his name.  If your little one is getting ready for the first day of kindergarten or preschool have them check out Biscuit Loves School.

The Popcorn Book written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

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The Popcorn Book was a baby shower gift from a family friend who enjoyed reading it to her own son. It turned out to be a great choice since my son LOVES popcorn and finds science and history interesting so this classic work which discusses the background of popcorn is his favorite nonfiction book on our rotation.  Also check out one of my favorite fictional picture books from my childhood Popcorn by Frank Asch which features a bear’s party overrun by popcorn when all the guests bring some to share.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Reading with the Hoboken Public Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club: Revelation Space, Kindred, The Martian Chronicles, When Gravity Fails, and Inferno

7 Jun

The first five months of 2017 have seemed to fly by at rocket speed.  I wanted to take a moment to take a quick look back at the books we have read so far as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group. (Click here to read more about this book club.)  The group meets one Monday each month to discuss a Science Fiction or Fantasy book picked by group members.  Before the book discussion we also typically watch either a film adaptation or a movie in a similar genre to the work being read.  On June 19 at 6 PM we will be discussing the Space Epic Leviathan Awakes by James S. A. Corey.  To join our mailing list email hplwriters AT gmail DOT com.

Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds

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The group started 2017 reading, Welsh author, Alastair Reynold’s Space Opera Revelation Space. Some of the group found it a bit confusing at first how there were several different plots with different characters set during different time periods, in different places. However, all these diverse plots come together in the end for a satisfying read.  Reynolds has a background in astronomy which he used to infuse the novel with realism. I was particularly drawn to his depiction of the one character who was an xenoarchaeologist who was studying an extinct species who had evolved from bird like creatures. Revelation Space answers the question of why humans seem to be alone in the universe. The novel became the first in the Revelation Space series.

Kindred, by Octavia Butler

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For African American History Month, we read Octavia E. Butler’s time travel classic Kindred. In Kindred, Dana, a modern black women in the 1970s who dreams of becoming a writer, is suddenly pulled back in time where she must save from drowning the white child of a plantation owner. She is returned to her own time, but several times is pulled back again each time to save Rufus who she learns is one of her ancestors. Kindred looks at the complex legacy of slavery that continues to be felt in our contemporary world. Many of Butler’s other novels also deal with issues of race and gender in unique and illuminating ways which will appeal to even those who are not traditionally fans of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles is one of Ray Bradbury’s most well-known works. Bradbury combined several short stories along with new materials to chronicle the history of Mars from the first exploration by humans. Some of the group would have preferred to see more of the story centered on the original Martian inhabitants of the novel which are inventively described by Bradbury, however, Bradbury’s beautiful writing style was praised. The group felt the book was fast paced though did feel more like a series of short stories that it started as rather than a cohesive novel.

When Gravity Fails, by George Alec Effinger

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Very often cyberpunk novels feel very dated and more reflective of the 1980s than a vision of a future when read today. Effinger’s When Gravity Fails, though published in 1987, the group felt was much more contemporary than other’s in the genre. The novel will appeal to fans of noir mysteries as well as science fiction. When Gravity Fails is set in the Budayeen, a technologically advanced urban ghetto in the Middle East. People can plug in “daddies” to gain new skills like speaking a foreign language and “moddies” to turn themselves into someone else entirely. Many of the characters including the main character’s girlfriend are transgendered. One character has even had surgery to appear as a different race from the one she was born as. This provided interesting topics about identity and responsibility in an increasing technological age. Effinger wrote two other books in the series and started work on his fourth before his death, which a portion of can be read in the short story collection Budayeen Nights.

Inferno, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven

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For May’s discussion, the group read Inferno, a 1976 retelling of Dante’s version from Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.  In this version a science fiction writer, Allen Carpenter, must make his way through the many circles of Hell as he tries to escape.  Carpenter explores his own beliefs and examines his behavior during his life during his journey.  Along the way he encounters some famous figures from history such as Jesse James, Vlad Tepes, and with some dark humor Kurt Vonnegut’s tomb.  Most of the group found the book to be a quick enjoyable read.  The group had read two of Niven’s science fiction works, Ringworld and Protector previously so it was interesting to see a work of fantasy by him and Pournelle.  A sequel to Inferno, Escape from Hell, was published several decades later in 2009.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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