Marysville Library Blog

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unlikely Friends: Books for Young Readers

Once children grow beyond toddlerhood, they begin to realize that there are people their own age around them, and that they might be interesting to play with. One of the ways they learn and grow is through exploring what it means to have and be a friend. What do friends do? Who can be friends? What does having a friend feel like? The issues of friendship can be endlessly interesting and frustrating for years. Books at your library can help your youngster try these things out without necessarily learning the hard way.

Start with the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. Featuring two lovable and funny characters -- an optimistic (and sometimes reckless) pig and a cautious, pessimistic elephant -- these books are easy enough for beginning readers, yet full of interest and humor. Children will love both the raw emotions as the two unlikely friends face different crises, and the humor that shines through the simplicity of the language. Titles in the series include: “I will surprise my friend”, “I love my new toy”, “Are you ready to play outside?”, “Elephants cannot dance”, “Watch me throw the ball”, “Pigs make me sneeze”, “Can I play too?” and “I am going”.

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Continuing the idea of unlikely friends, Bink is wild and outgoing, while Gollie is reserved and quiet. Bink is short, while Gollie is tall. But the both love roller-skating. Three chapters explore the adventures of wildly bright socks, an impromptu trip to the Andes, and an unexpectedly marvelous pet. This still has lots of pictures and not too many words per page, and is a good next step up from Elephant and Piggie.

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows. Seven-year-old Bean is always active and always getting into trouble, but when a new girl moves in across the street, she isn’t thrilled. The new girl looks like she’s stuck up and always has her nose in a book. When Ivy moves into a new house, she just knows that the strange and wild girl across the street wouldn’t be a suitable friend. What could they possibly have in common? Then one time, desperate to get away from her big sister, Bean hides near Ivy, and Ivy rescues her. Longer than “Bink and Gollie”, this series is perfect for ages 6-9; two more unlikely friends who have wonderfully funny adventures together.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. This old-fashioned series is a step up from the “Ivy + Bean” series, but again features unlikely friends who become inseparable. Betsy is the only girl her age in the neighborhood and is thrilled when a new girl moves in. After a rocky start, they finally become friends when Tacy comes to Betsy’s fifth birthday party – becoming so inseparable that people start referring to them with one name: “Betsy-Tacy”. They build a house out of a piano box, make a sand town, and play dress-up and go calling just like their mothers. This series has been loved for so long that its early 1900 setting has become historical fiction, but the deep friendship it portrays is still true for girls today.

The adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-fu cavemen from the future by George Beard and Harold Hutchins. Enough of these girly friend books, here’s one for the boys. From the author of the “Captain Underpants” books, and with a similar sensationally silly sense of humor, cave-guys Ook and Gluk and their pet dinosaur living hundreds of thousands of years ago have amazing adventures with time travel, evil corporations, and kung-fu. Forget worrying about their friendship, they’re like most boys and off having adventures saving the world!

These are some of the "friend" books that have crossed my desk recently. I invite you to come visit at the Information Desk, and we'll find the perfect book for you and your child!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

E-books vs Print Books: Smackdown Survey

Lots of people in the book world are analyzing and talking about e-readers and what effect they will have. Amazon crowed that sales of Kindle books surpassed sales of hard cover books recently. Some people are foretelling *The End of the Book*.

Of course, we’re interested in how these new-fangled devices will change our world in the library, and trying to adapt to those changes that we can see coming. So in addition to taking opportunities to play with all of the Kindles and Nooks and Sony readers and iPads, I’m also talking with other book lovers in my daily life. I talked with fellow soccer parents at a game, I talked with my book group, and I even talked with my teenage son. Here are the reactions I got:

*My son was absolutely against e-books. He said it took too long to turn the page.

*One person said that she loves to write her reactions to the book in the margins. How could she do that in an e-book? Her husband, however, loves to read on his smart phone because of the convenience.

*Almost everybody said that they would be absolutely great for traveling, as it would be so much easier than schlepping around a stack of books. But one person said that it would be worse to lose or have an e-reader stolen than a cheap paperback.

*One lady said that she would love to have an e-book, as it would mean she would no longer have shelves of books filling up her bedroom. But even if she did get an e-book, she would still buy books to use as “bath tub books”.

*One lady said she would use an e-reader for general reading, but if she really liked a book, she would purchase a print copy.

*Several people said that e-books for young children were completely inappropriate. On the one hand, they need the mental stimulation of physically turning pages, maybe chewing on the corners of the board books, turning flaps, stroking fur or sandpaper, and so forth. On the other hand, children can be very rough on things: would you really want your child to throw an e-book? One mother commented that her toddlers loved the vinyl books they played with in their bath.

What do I take away from my unscientific survey? I see that physical books aren’t going away, but that they’ll be less common as they’ll fill in the margins of a reader’s life: on the cheap end that they don’t mind getting damaged and on the high end as a mark of importance in their intellectual or emotional lives.

How is Sno-Isle adapting to e-books? Check out our downloadable books! We have both downloadable e-books and audiobooks, in addition to downloadable music and videos. They can be played or seen on specific devices, as listed on the record. None are downloadable to Kindle. That’s not anything we have any control over; that’s just the way currently builds the Kindle and the copyrights are negotiated for each book. So download the Overdrive media console, search for a book, check to see that it goes with your device, and go!