project re-shelve, busted!


I’m planning to pursue a Ph.D in Children’s Lit next year. So what better time to start reading more kids books and hey, writing about it, since that’s my new direction?

I’ll start with two (no, three) I pulled off the re-shelve cart. Books that I was supposed to, um, re-shelve.

The first one is the size of a Beatrice Potter book.  It is 15 cm. in height, according to our catalog, and is about a mouse, which seems to fit its diminutive size.

Mouse Letters: a very first alphabet book by Jim Arnosky.

Arnosky, whose website is titled “Jim Arnosky’s Wildlife Journal,” is a “renowned naturalist, as well as author and illustrator of many books for children about animals and nature. He wrote Mouse Letters and its companion book Mouse Numbers, twenty years ago as a gift for his young daughter, who now has a child of his own” (from the back jacket-flap of Mouse Letters.)

This book depicts a mouse trying to make the letters of the alphabet by arranging and sometimes manipulating twigs. The U, which is made as the mouse falls onto a twig bridging a small gap, is followed by the harrowing image of the mouse holding on for dear life at the middle of the now letter V. Wordless, it takes me back to its watercolor pictures again and again.

(I’m excited that there is a companion title. More on that later, maybe.)

The second book I couldn’t shelve was a bigger tome, One Frog Sang, by Shirley Parenteau. The cover shows a happy green frog with the onomatopoeia, “Ka-blu-urp!”

Parenteau’s website is based on her second book, Bears on Chairs, and you need Flash installed to run it. Apparently One Frog Sang was inspired by hearing frogs singing by the road. They stopped singing when cars drove by. Parenteau is not new to writing, but as books go in and out of print, her other titles aren’t listed on her website. I dug a little and found one in our catalog: A space age cookbook for kids, from 1979. Call me a librarian, but I think a book is still interesting if it is no longer in bookstores and I think all books an author wrote should be listed on their websites. (Surely at the very least they own a copy, and could be photographed holding it, if nothing else.)

Ah, but you want to know about the book. Well, I haven’t even opened it yet. I’ve been helping patrons put holds on the latest Harlan Coban book, or renew their library card registration, and find the third book in the Percy Jackson series.

The end papers are blotches of green on yellow, so that’s kind of fun. The story is a kind of circle (one frog starts, then two, then more, until a car drives by and they are silent. Until…and it starts again as the book ends.) I’m not crazy about the pictures, maybe because in my mind, frogs are from Tuesday and very realistically drawn/painted. I’m not crazy about the onomatopoeia, which seem to be made-up words, not just the “Ribbit Ribbit” that I’m used to. But I do not have a wriggling child in my lap and I am not reading this book out loud. I am reading it to myself as mothers ferry their children over to the circulation desk and out the door, as children and grandmothers peer into the hamster’s cage and watch him take a drink. And taking a closer look, I know that part of my not-love for this book is that I’m not familiar with the frog sounds of the country. I’m a city girl, always was, always will be. But the critic in me says, frogs deserve to be drawn well. Some in this book are, but others are not, and that bugs me.

The last book is one that I found at the second re-shelve cart, and again, I almost re-shelved it but couldn’t. I think this book will go home with me, since I can’t read it all sitting here at my desk.

(Just walked over to paperbacks to get the Island trilogy off the shelf, Gordan Korman.)

DK is a favorite publisher of mine, so already they have my attention when the subtitle of this Anne Frank biography is “a photographic story of a life.” The first photograph in the book is of the actual diary–who knew that she wrote in a book that was red and gray plaid? Inside, as a quick leaf through (who knows when the next youth will come in clamoring for Harry Potter 7?) I discover treasures such as a picture of Anne sunbathing (keep your mind out of the gutter), a picture of an actual ration book, and a little sidebar about Montessori schools, because (who knew?) Anne attended one. When I was in college, I wrote a paper on Anne Frank, using Miep Gies book Anne Frank Remembered as my main source. I remember it for the information, but more than that how clear the writing was. In that book, I learned that Otto Frank loved meeting new people and that he had a gathering at his house every week of all sorts of people (before the war, of course.) I think I will pore over this book tonight, at home.

It’s time to try to shelve some more books, as a young child screams bloody murder over the fact that he will soon have to leave the library.


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