Find children's books to treasure
Best-sellers not always the best selections
Some think that just because a children's book has sold gobs of copies it equates into a book that is a "must read." Well, that might be true in some cases. However, it's not true in all instances.
A great deal of any book's success has to do with the amount of promotional effort (and money) the publisher puts behind the book.
That said, there are many books that don't receive as great of a promotional/ marketing push and ultimately don't end up with the notice they deserve.
The purpose of this column and the companion website (greatestbooksforkids.com) is to seek out and review only those books that are very much worth reading, whether they are heavily marketed or not. Be sure to ask your local children's librarian to help you find other real treasures in children's books.
Don't simply rely on "best seller" lists to find the real gems in children's and young adult books. Keep this column, companion website and local librarian's opinions on your horizon. You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Sheep" by Valerie Hobbs, Farrar Straus Giroux, 115 pages
Read aloud: age 8 and older
Read yourself: age 9 — 10 and older
When the dog was born, he waited excitedly for the day he could join the older dogs and help herd the sheep, and when that day came, it was glorious. The young dog knew this was what he was meant to be, but not long thereafter, his life changed dramatically.
Torn from his family and in a strange place where there are no sheep, the young dog begins his journey, deciding that somehow, even if it takes the rest of his life, he will find his family and the sheep again.
For a while, the Goat Man cared for him, sharing his food, friendship and life philosophy. Later, the dog wound up in the hands of a cruel circus man who uses a whip. Finally able to escape, the dog begins to believe that he'll never find what he's looking for, and at that moment, he meets a boy who needs him as much as he needs the boy.
An extraordinary and rich novel, "Sheep" will tug at your heart long after the last page is read.
Library: Gridley Branch, Butte County Library, 299 Spruce St., Gridley
Library Director: Linda Mielke
Branch Librarian: Cynthia Pustejovsky
Children's Services: Christy Cooke-Williford
Choices this week: "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse" by Kevin Henkes; "The Lemonade Club" by Patricia Polacco; "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" by Avi
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"Oh No, George!" written and illustrated by Chris Haughton, Candlewick, 2012, 32 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3 — 4 and older
Read yourself: age 7 and older
George was Harry's dog. George tried very hard to be a good dog, but sometimes George's dog instincts got the better of him. And so it was one day when Harry was about to leave the house and asked George if he would be good. George assured him he would, but when Harry left, George began to question himself. Then a sequence of tempting bad-dog possibilities presented themselves, starting with the chocolate cake ...
Hilarious text couple with equally hilarious illustrations of a good-intentioned dog, some not-so-good behaviors and a bit of redemptive behavior on the part of George. This funny story will have kids smiling on every page.
"Duck for a Day" by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge, Candlewick, 2012, 90 pages, $12.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 5 and older
Read yourself: age 7 — 8 and older
Abby's class pet was a duck named Max, and more than anything, Abby wanted to be able to bring Max home overnight. Her teacher had very specific qualifications for Max and his overnight accommodations and safety. While Abby worked feverishly to create the best environment for Max, her neighbor and classmate, Noah, was doing the same.
Abby always thought Noah was strange and felt certain she would be the one to take care of Max. But some things don't always turn out the way we have planned, including unlikely friendships.
Loaded with charm, humor and subtle messages, "Duck for a Day" is pure delight.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures about children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.