Illustrators We Love: Vashti Harrison

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2020 by Megan

Hair Love book coverIf you’ve read our blog before, you know that we mostly focus on the authors of the books we love. However, today I’ve decided spotlight one of my favorite illustrators! (She’s actually a triple threat—illustrator, author and filmmaker.) So, without further ado, let me introduce Vashti Harrison!  Harrison is originally from Onley, Virginia, but her talents and dreams took her all the way to California, where she studied with the greats from Disney and Dreamworks.

Her children’s books vary from board books to chapter books, and she has collaborated on books with other authors as well as written her own. The book “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Harrison was recently turned into an Oscar, winning animated short. Personally, I love her illustrations for “Cece Loves Science” by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes. In this work, Cece is a girl with a lot of questions and a natural curiosity about the world around her.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History book coverI also adore her books about famous people. “Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History,” “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” (and the board book equivalent “Dream Big, Little One”) are all about prominent African Americans. “Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World” is a book of women creators from around the globe.

Each of these books pictures a lovely portrait of a renowned person and a brief bio of what made them great! All of the illustrations feature the famous person in the same pose—eyes cast down and just a hint of a grin. Harrison says that “a subtle smile is one of serenity.”

Harrison has been inspired by such classic children’s illustrators as Roger Hargreaves and Mary Blair, but her style is all her own. Harrison also portrays the people as children playing dress up so that kids can imagine themselves in the shoes of the person featured in the biography. You can even make your own little leader by downloading this coloring page.

Have fun reading ALL of Vashti Harrison’s books! You can find them at your favorite branch or on this list.

Brianna’s Books: March Favorites 2020

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2020 by Brianna

As I sit at my computer ordering books, I just get so excited about so many of them! There are too many to share, but I’m delighted to be able to tell you about some of them here. For all the rest, make sure you keep an eye on our new book shelves at your library.

Picture Books

Hike” written and illustrated by Pete Oswald

I love wordless picture books. Not only are they beautiful, but they encourage readers to develop their visual literacy and storytelling skills. This nearly wordless book looks like a great choice for that. “Hike” captures the quiet wonder of a hike through the mountains, and careful readers will spot the reason for their hike. As the weather warms up and spring approaches, this book could be a great way to get your children excited to explore outside.

Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story” written by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jonathan Voss

Anyone that has visited the Columbia Public Library has likely seen our owl by the Children’s Services desk. Did you know that she’s a Great Horned Owl? If your child has been on a school tour here, they could likely tell you all about it! When I saw this book that describes the life cycle of the Great Horned Owl through haiku, I knew we just had to have it. Sometimes nonfiction can be a little wordy for young readers, but the haiku format makes the information accessible enough for little ones to enjoy. Plus, haiku is a super fun form of poetry—and National Poetry Month is right around the corner!

My Singing Nana” written by Pat Mora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

This book explores how to cope when a loved one has dementia. Billy’s Nana has started to forget things more and more, but she and Billy still love singing and baking together. The back pages in the book offer advice and conversation starters to discuss dementia and Alzheimer’s with children. This is the kind of book that everyone can enjoy, but it will be especially valuable for kiddos with dementia in their families.

Be You!” written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

You don’t have to read every book straight through; some books are enjoyed best by flipping to different pages when you need them. Reynolds’ latest picture book is filled with affirmations and beautiful illustrations that illuminate them. Reynolds exhorts his readers to be kind, curious and persistent and shows vibrant pictures of children doing just that. Keep this book nearby, and use it for teachable moments with your child.


Chapter Books

The Best of Iggy” written by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

Getting in trouble isn’t the goal, it’s just the side effect of really good ideas. Iggy may be a troublemaker, but he’s a good kid, and he doesn’t exactly regret any of his escapades—except for one. This slim chapter book will be hard to put down and will keep readers laughing the whole way through.

Show Me a Sign” written by Ann Clare LeZotte

Here’s a fascinating #ownvoices book. LeZotte is part of the deaf community and has written this historical fiction based on the deaf community in Martha’s Vineyard. This book takes place in the early 19th century, a time when Martha’s Vineyard had such a high deaf population that everyone on the island used sign language and didn’t consider deafness a disability. When an overeager scientist comes to study the inhabitants of the island, tensions rise and the protagonist must avoid becoming merely a “live specimen.”

From the Desk of Zoe Washington” written by Janae Marks

Zoe Washington is almost a seventh grader, living with her mom and stepfather and dreaming of entering Food Network’s kids baking challenge. On her 12th birthday, she receives a letter from her incarcerated father whom she’s never met. As they continue to correspond through letters and the occasional phone call, Zoe is convinced of her father’s innocence and becomes determined to prove it. This book explores systemic racism and the criminal justice system through the eyes of a relatable middle-schooler.

King and the Dragonflies” written by Kacen Callender

The acclaimed author of “Hurricane Child” is back with another powerful novel about love, loss and identity. When King’s older brother dies, King does his best to live up to his brother’s expectations while dealing with his grief—even when those expectations go against truths King is beginning to admit to himself. Set in the bayou of Louisiana, this book expertly navigates homophobia, grief and family.

Best Read-Alouds: 2020 Building Block Nominees

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2020 by Kristy

2020 Missouri Building Block Books

Want some excellent read-alouds to read to your kids or classroom? Then check out this year’s new roundup of Missouri Building Block nominees! These books have been picked and tested by librarians around Missouri, and they are sure to have your crew asking for more.

The 2020 Building Block Nominees are:

Brianna’s Books: February Favorites 2020

Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2020 by Brianna

One of the most exciting things about working in a library is seeing all the new books come in. While I will happily re-read books forever, I love to make time for new favorites too. As the Youth Materials Selector for DBRL, I get the inside scoop on upcoming books, so I’d like to share some of these awesome titles with you!

Picture Books

I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five!” written by Cari Best, illustrated by Boris Kulikov

cover of "I'm Brave! I"m strong! I'm five!"

Bedtime can be scary; even as an adult, strange shapes in the darkness can be unsettling. The protagonist in this story finds the courage to face these fears on her own. Knowing that her parents are just outside her room, she repeats her refrain “I’m brave! I’m strong! I’m five!” and tackles each unnerving sight and sound. This book is a great choice for little ones seeking to gain confidence and bedtime independence.



My Monster Friends and Me: A Big Kid’s Guide to Things That Go Bump in the Night” written by Annie Sarac, illustrated by Alice Brereton

cover of "My Monster Friends and Me"

Try this book for another approach to bedtime fears. Or any time fears! In this story, the child narrator shares a secret: by naming your fears, they can become friends instead. As each fear is named and given a friendly personality, the illustrations change from dark to cheery. Read this book together with your kiddo, then try this strategy at home!



The President of the Jungle” by Andre Rodrigues

cover of "The President of the Jungle"

In this vibrantly illustrated picture book, the animals in the jungle decide to elect their next ruler. Instead of Lion as king, the animals follow a democratic process to vote for a president. This nonpartisan book is a great way to introduce little ones to elections, and it incorporates plenty of terms like “ballot” and “candidate.”



Moo, Moo, Chew, Chew” written by by Jennifer Shand, illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi

cover of "Moo, moo, chew, chew"

If your child isn’t ready for election information, try this animal sounds book instead! Not quite a board book, this picture book will make your toddler feel more grown up while still enjoying farm animal sounds. Supposedly the pages are resistant to tearing, but no need to test us on this!


Chapter Books

Baby-sitter’s Little Sister: Karen’s Witch” written by Katy Farina, illustrated by Braden Lamb

cover of "Karen's Witch"

Moving on to chapter books! This first pick is a graphic novel, and it is already flying off the shelves. In case you hadn’t heard, they are adapting Ann Martin’s Baby-sitter’s Club Little Sister books into graphic novels. After the wild success of the original series graphic novels, young readers are eager to get their hands on these. Follow the link to place a hold, and delight your young fans of Raina Telgemeier.



Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation” written by Mindy Johnson, illustrated by Lorelay Bové.

cover of "Pencils, Pens & Brushes"

Do you have a child who absolutely loves to draw? What about one who is in love with all things Disney? Here’s a great choice. This adaptation of “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation” details the history of women in animation. Aspiring artists will enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at the industry, as well as the stories of inspirational women.



Consent for Kids” by Rachel Brian

cover of "Consent for Kids"

Bodily autonomy and boundaries matter! It’s never too early to let kids know that they can set their own boundaries about their bodies. The author uses humor and kid-friendly analogies to communicate this important subject. Read it and discuss with your kid, and let your discussion be a foundation for their future growth.




Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey” by Magdalena and Nathaniel Newman

cover of "Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey"

Did your family enjoy “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio? Palacio was inspired to write “Wonder” based on a picture of Nathaniel Newman, a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome. Now Nathaniel and his mom have written this memoir together, to give the true story of growing up with Treacher Collins syndrome. The book is filled with examples of love and resilience and is an excellent choice for fans of Auggie.

Books We Love: Never Touch a…

Posted on Monday, February 10, 2020 by Kristy

Never Touch a Polar Bear photoMy 9-month-old, Ember, absolutely LOVES touch and feel board books. If a book doesn’t have a great tactile experience—lumps, bumps, shiny things or lift-the-flaps—she will toss it aside with disdain. So you can bet that I’ve checked out nearly every touch and feel book that DBRL owns!

The titles that have risen to the top of Ember’s favorites are the Never Touch a… books written by Rosie Greening and illustrated by Stuart Lynch.

Why are they her favorite? Because, drum roll, they are so touchable! They include a whole bunch of cool textures for little ones to explore and the characters are lively and bright. Also, the reader gets to be a bit of a rebel, since the book warns you to never touch the characters, but feeling them is a must!

Never Touch A Polar Bear” was probably the biggest hit of all. The textures are great, the silly arctic animals show off their awesome skills and the rhymes are pretty funny. (My only complaint is that the text switches fonts frequently, which makes it difficult to read aloud.) Watch this video to see Ember’s obsession with the front cover!

Cozy Reads for Cold Days

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2020 by Amy

Need a little warmth to drive out the cold and snow? Then check out a few of my favorite cuddly, cozy reads for winter days.

The Thing about Yetis book coverThe Thing About Yetis” by Vin Vogel

A Great Big Cuddle book coverYetis love winter, but even yetis get tired of the frigid, snowy weather. To counteract the cold, little yeti comes up a great idea to keep his mind on sunnier things.

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young” written by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Curl up with this playful collection of poems from best-selling children’s author and poet Michael Rosen. In this exuberant compilation, Michael Rosen invites children to joyfully celebrate sounds and the infinite possibilities of language.

Mommy Is a Soft, Warm KissMommy Is A Soft, Warm Kiss” written by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Maggie Smith

Daddy Is a Cozy Hug book coverA child celebrates all of the wonderful things a mother can be throughout the year, from a treasure buried in summer sand to a snow-white angel gliding down winter slopes.

Daddy Is A Cozy Hug” written by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Maggie Smith

A child celebrates all of the wonderful things a father can be throughout the year, from a wiggling fish in summer to a warm blanket in winter.

Upcoming Children’s Books in 2020

Posted on Monday, December 23, 2019 by Tess

Get here soon 2020, we’ve got some reading to do! It’s time for us to share some of the exciting new books coming out in 2020. Librarians everywhere are filling their shopping carts with these up-and-coming reads, so feel free to add them to your holds list!

Picture books

No More Naps” written by Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Leo Espinsoa (Publication date: February)

It’s time for a nap, but, just like stubborn toddlers everywhere, Annalise Devin McFleece won’t have anything to do with bedtime. Dad tries to encourage sleepiness by pushing her around the park in her stroller. Along the way, they pass a man sitting on a bench, dog walkers, a boy on a skateboard, kids playing ball, a girl practicing her juggling and others. Each of them thinks that taking a nap is a great idea, and if Annalise Devin McFleece doesn’t want hers, they’ll happily take it. And one by one, everyone falls asleep…except Annalise Devin McFleece. But when she’s finally ready for her nap, all the naps are taken! Is there anyone who has an extra nap to spare? With every turn of the page, the busy city scene becomes more and more quiet…except for Annalise Devin McFleece. Will she ever take a nap?


Just Like Me” by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Publication date: January)

From the author of “Grandma’s Purse,” comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa’s signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.


Bedtime for Sweet Creatures” written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Publication Date: January)

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature into bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night. 

Continue reading “Upcoming Children’s Books in 2020”

Best Children’s Books of 2019

Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Kristy

It’s that time of year again! The DBRL youth services staff have come up with a list of the best of the best children’s books that came out this year. Make sure to check out these awesome titles and comment below with your favorite books of 2019!

I Will Be Fierce book cover

I Will Be Fierce” written by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
Our young narrator takes us through her day faced with many challenges, such as standing up to a table full of bullies and feeling confident in her work. Throughout the day, she encourages herself to be confident, reach further, be kinder and stand tall by saying to herself, “Today, I will be fierce!”

Be a Maker book cover

Be A Maker” written by Katey Howes, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic
The detailed illustrations in this book about creating kept my toddler and I talking night after night for over a month!

B is for Baby book cover

B Is for Baby” written by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
I love how many rare “B” words this book introduces. My toddler loves that she can retell the story all by herself.

Here and There book cover

Here and There by Tamara Ellis Smith, illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi
This story is told from the point of view of young Ivan, who is learning to accept the changes that occurred when his parents separated. I especially like the way the bright, hip illustrations complement and add to the narrative. Ivan learns that the things he loves are all around him and not only in one location.

Continue reading “Best Children’s Books of 2019”

Girls Being Girls

Posted on Monday, December 2, 2019 by Jessica M

It’s not secret that I love making book lists. I love a good challenge, I love looking at different types of books and I love highlighting some of our lesser known titles so they can be loved and appreciated in the homes of others. That’s why, when I received this request, I knew it was going to be a fun one.

Child: “Do you have any girly books?”

At first glance, this seemed like an easy enough request. “Fancy Nancy” or “Junie B. Jones” are always crowd favorites when it comes to “girly” titles. However, this wasn’t what she wanted. It took some questions, some pondering and some trial-and-error to find out that the request was a bit more complex than expected. She wanted books for young girls, about girls—that are happy, supportive and productive (while also sometimes a little cute and adorable). That’s a lot to accomplish in just a few short pages of a picture book for young children. Therefore, we took the time to really compile and vet our options. I found some pretty awesome “girly” book in this process. Intrigued? Then check out the books below!

Dear Girl” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This book celebrates what it means to be a girl. Girls are girls because they are girls, not because of how others label them or by meeting certain criteria.

Princess Hair” by Sharee Miller

Not all hair is the same! This is a fun, upbeat book about hair acceptance and diversity. Princess hair comes in all different styles and all princesses wear their hair differently.

The Girls” by Lauren Ace

“The Girls” is a story about four friends growing up together. They meet, establishing their secret place while they build their relationships. Together, the girls grow and support one another through their victories and losses in life, some of them finding life partners, earning degrees, getting married, having kids, going on adventures—whatever each of them finds important. But no matter what happens, they all still support their friends.

Interstellar Cinderella” by Deborah Underwood

Cinderella wants to fix fancy rockets. When the Prince throws a Royal Space Parade, all Cinderella wants to do is go and see amazing spaceships. It’s not about finding Prince Charming or thwarting her evil stepfamily. The most important thing is Cinderella is following her dreams.

Cece Loves Science and Adventure” by Kimberly Derting

Cece and the other Adventure Girls go into the wilderness to earn their camping badges. However, on a hike, their GPS cannot locate them and a storm comes rolling in. It’s up to the Adventure Girls to use their STEM skills to get themselves back to camp.

Mary Wears What She Wants” by Keith Negley

This book is a fictional retelling of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker as a child. Dr. Walker was a famous doctor who served during the Civil War in the Union Army. In this retelling, it shows Dr. Walker as a child who saw that pants should be for everyone, not just men, and she decides to wear them. This causes quite a stir and people try to convince her to wear only dresses. It shows how hard it is to hold onto ideals, but it is important to do so to make great changes for everyone!

Planting Stories” by Anika Denise

Anika Denise brings Pura Belpré’s story to life in a beautifully illustrated book. Pura came to the United States to visit New York and to attend her sister’s wedding. However, Pura decides to stay. She works in a garment factory and then at the New York Public Library branch in Harlem. There, she tells stories from her home in Puerto Rico. The children love them and Pura sends them to a publisher. She continues to tell stories from Puerto Rico and perform her stories for the children in the community. This book shows Pura’s life, her appreciation for the culture she came from, and the cultural impact that her work had on the Harlem branch on 135th Street.


Love these books? Want to see more? Then check out my “Girls Being Girls” book list!

2020 Handprint Calendars

Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 by Tess

The holiday season is here, hooray! That means it’s time for food, family and fun. And I have a really fun and creative idea for your family—handprint calendars! Get out your washable ink pads, markers, stamps, stickers and whatever other art supplies are lying about your house. It’s time to make an amazing, one-of-a-kind calendar to keep or to give to a special loved one. Here’s the template, created by our awesome PR department at the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

handprint bird

Happy Holidays everyone!

(P.S. Check out these awesome examples by some of our librarian’s little ones!)