Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Better late than never-Favorite Picture Books of 2017

Crafty Little World

With little fanfare, here are my favorite picture book titles from the last year.

I'm not usually a fan of "weird" books (see last year's Du Is Tak for the type of quirky books that aren't my speed), but this one is just great fun. 

The Antlered Ship

This next title is my number one pick for 2017. I'm going to be shocked if it doesn't win something when the youth literature awards are given. The illustrations are magic, and the story is just right for preschoolers. 

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse

Laundry Day has just the right mix of a playful spin on familiar household activities and animal antics to please the preschool set.

I haven't seen this one on many "best of" lists, but it's a solid picture book biography with lots of history and some delightful illustrations.


If you're on the hunt for some science based nonfiction picture books Kate Messner is always a good bet.

Over and Under the Pond

I'm as surprised as you are that I'm recommending a James Patterson title,let alone one with the word genius in the title, but if you know a little one fascinated by great big words then you need this one in your life.

Big Words for Little Geniuses

 Honorable mention to They All Saw a Cat, which I hadn't yet read at this point in 2016. Its Caldecott Honor was well deserved.

Other great picks from this year include:

When's My Birthday?


I suspect this one also has Caldecott potential, particularly given the current situation with elephants:

How to be an Elephant

Big Cat, Little Cat

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's a post that's not about me painting something!

I have debated posting this for weeks, and I’m still not sure sharing this with the world is the right decision, but talking about it on an individual basis has been rough, and there are a number of people I still feel ought to know, so I’m just throwing it all out there into the universe. I’ve rewritten this half a dozen times, and in the end decided to be brief. After recent testing I learned that I’m a carrier for the BRCA2 mutation. If you’re unfamiliar with what this means there are a number of helpful links and resources in this post. The gist  is that my risk for breast and ovarian cancer is much higher than that of the general population. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, who later underwent elective mastectomy and oophorectomy when she got her BRCA2 diagnosis about 15 years ago. Her mother was also a breast cancer survivor (twice, because our family has all the fun), and many other family members have had breast cancer.

While not every BRCA mutation carrier would choose to undergo surgery I decided many years ago that if I was a carrier I would do so. Nothing I have read or heard in the last 6 weeks of research has changed my mind. I will have a hysterectomy, and bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in August and September. I don’t plan to share a ton of detail about the whys and wherefores of exactly what procedures I’ve chosen (though if you look up Angelina Jolie a very similar course was recommended to me, sadly it won’t come with her looks or money attached), but suffice it to say that I have researched options, spoken to a number of great doctors and am at peace with the decisions.

I hope to be away from work for no more than 8 weeks, and to do some “sitting friendly” work from home between surgeries. A wonderful staff member will take over my storytimes at the library, and I am very grateful to her, as well as to my wonderful director, who only said “tell us what you need.” This whole situation has put me in a weird place of both desperately wanting to share and talk about this, and not wanting anyone to know, or to tell anyone. Those who know me well will know that I’m extremely private, and modest, and I certainly had no intention to ever post a conversation on the internet with even this much discussion about my body. Oddly up to now my husband has actually told more people than I have, and if you know him you know he’s not a gregarious man. However, you also probably know that as a librarian I have researched the dickens out of this situation and could not pass up the opportunity to point you to the following resources if you, or someone you know, ever face this decision. Huge thanks to the handful in the know, who have offered us help. Accepting help is not something that is easy for me, but I’m going to try very hard to take you up 
on it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

We could all use a dose of nice right now.

Like many of you I'm still reeling from the results of last week's election. This post is an attempt to do what I promised my children we will do every day: continue to work to be kind, to do public service, and to be accepting of differences. I've focused on picture book titles, as they are my personal favorite, and the subset of children's literature that I know best. This list is by no means complete. While depicting diversity in children's books is an uphill battle, there are many books in print today that do a beautiful job celebrating our differences and the need for kindness every day. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Last stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O'Leary

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Everyone by Christopher Silas Neal

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

Everywhere Babies by Susan Myers

It's Okay to be Different, and The Family Book by Todd Parr

I'm the first to admit Todd Parr was a hard sell for me. More traditional, sentimental illustration and text are my first love in children's books, but Parr's whimsical illustrations and inclusive messages won me over. I'd have trouble coming up with another children's author/illustrator doing anything quite like this, and kid's love him. I'm sure Parr's newest book Be Who You Are is also fabulous, but it's so new I haven't seen a copy yet.

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vanity area transformation!

I'm back! In December I began working as a children's librarian (can you say dream job?), so my ability to do blog-worthy projects has been curtailed. Having said that this one might be my all-time favorite. We've lived in our home for just under 9 years, and this project marks the final banishment of all of the orange-ish oak. I'm not an "oak hater" or an "oak screams 90s" person, but I only like oak in certain settings and this vanity was not one of them.

This was another project that rapidly turned from "oh this will be done in a weekend" to "oops," but the finished product has me all smiles. Previously this area just felt awkward and incomplete. The basic cabinets were topped by a large frameless mirror. My original plan was to try out a product from "mirror mates" and frame the mirror myself, but in the end I decided to go for easy and just replace the mirror, and it ultimately ended up costing less than a framing kit would have. The vanity finish is the gray gel stain from General Finishes. Disclaimer: this stain has a strong blue hint. It works in my space, but is not what I was expecting at all. It also went on more like a paint than a stain. When the doors and drawer fronts were in my kitchen I was really hesitant about the color, but this area doesn't get much natural light, so I think it works.


The bin pulls are from Pottery Barn and the knobs are from Lowes. The mirror is from Home Goods and cost about 10% of what I had budgeted, woo! The faucet is on my mental "replace this" list, but our plumber has advised that we keep our current fixtures, as he says the way faucets are made has changed and not for the better. I have no inside information on whether this is true, but since my current plumbing fixture budget is zero dollars I've decided to believe him. In my dreams the carpet is gone, but once again keeping the existing flooring is free, so the price is definitely right. We'll likely change out the frame on the calla lily picture, or replace it with something else from my stash or a free printable.

Thanks for reading!