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!

Spotlight on Studio Ghibli

Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2020 by Adam

Founded in 1985, Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio that has created some of the best-loved and most highly acclaimed animated films of all time. The name, Ghibli, comes from an Arabic and Italian word for a hot desert wind, with the idea that the studio would “blow a new wind” or be a breath of fresh air in the Japanese animation industry. At least part of the reason why Studio Ghibli’s films are so beloved by children and parents alike is the beauty of their hand-drawn animation, their fantastic, enchanting narratives and the continuing relevance of their themes—personal, environmental and political. Here are a few of most popular Ghibli films that we have at the library:

My Neighbor Totoro” was the first film for Studio Ghibli directed by one of it’s founders, Hayao Miyazaki, who has since become Japan’s most commercially successful filmmaker. It begins when two young girls and their father move into an old house to be close to their mother while she is recovering from an illness. Feeling lonely in their new surroundings, the girls befriend a large creature they call Totoro, who introduces them to other magical beings in the forest that only the girls can see. “My Neighbor Totoro” is a lovely, gentle story about imagination and the ways in which kids cope with difficult passages of childhood.

One of my personal favorite Ghibli films, “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” is the story of a thirteen-year-old witch named Kiki who leaves home for a year to develop her powers and learn to fend for herself. Kiki takes her talking black cat, Jiji, with her and flies on her broomstick to a large port city, where she starts a delivery service out of a bakery. Kiki’s struggles with self-doubt and depression in the big city lead her to briefly lose her powers and, with spirited away coverthe help of a local artist named Ursula, she starts to regain her confidence and purpose as a witch. Continue reading “Spotlight on Studio Ghibli”

Authors We Love: Deborah Underwood

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2020 by Jessica M

Need a new author to follow? Try out one of my personal favorites, Deborah Underwood.

Growing up, Underwood dreamed of being an astronaut, a singer and a writer. Nowadays, she’s a published children’s book author and a singer for her local choir. While that’s only two out of three, Underwood lets outer space play a role in her books, especially in the art of some of her newer titles.

Why should you love Deborah Underwood? She’s quirky and silly, her books are fun and she always sticks to books that have a classical feel but a whole new story to tell. Underwood also picks talented illustrators to work with her, including people like Claudia Rueda, Meg Hunt and more.

Claudia Rueda’s illustrations are cute, often depicting animals. Some of her works include the “Hungry Bunny” or “Bunny Slopes” books, which feature the cutest little white bunny that gets himself in all sorts of trouble, needing the reader’s help to get out.

Meg Hunt goes a different direction with her illustrations. While the backgrounds are dark, they are offset by the brilliantly colored characters. Hunt worked with Underwood for the titles “Interstellar Cinderella” and “Reading Beauty.” As we near our Summer Reading 2020, themed “Imagine Your Story,” these titles fall wonderfully into the mix as beautifully updated versions of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”

These are some of my favorite books by Deborah Underwood:

Interstellar Cinderella - Underwood, DeborahInterstellar Cinderella” (2019) illustrated by Meg Hunt

“Interstellar Cinderella” is a magical retelling of the original “Cinderella” story. Interstellar Cinderella wants to be a mechanic and fix fancy starships. While she fixes more common appliances like dishwashers and tiny robots during the day, she studies ship repair by night. When the prince announces a space parade, Cinderella leaps at the opportunity but is marooned on a planet by her stepsisters and stepmother. With some help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is able to make it to the parade. There, she sees amazing starships that make her swoon. When the prince’s suffers a mechanical failure, Cinderella rushes to save the magnificent ship. She fixes it, goes to the ball with the Prince, but as the clock strikes midnight, she rushes home. The Prince follows and offers to marry her, but Cinderella just wants to be his chief mechanic. Continue reading “Authors We Love: Deborah Underwood”

2019 Missouri Building Block Winner!

Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2020 by Kristy

Can I Be Your Dog book coverA whopping 22,000 preschool and kindergarten voters participated this year, picking “Can I Be Your Dog” by Troy Cummings as the 2019 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award winner! Second place goes to “Cookiesaurus Rex” and third place goes to “I Just Ate My Friend.”

If we went by our young voters just here at DBRL, the winner would have been “I Just Ate My Friend” by Heidi McKinnon followed closely by “Cookiesaurus Rex” and “Beware the Monster!”

Check out the official page of the Missouri Building Block Award to see past winners, get activity sheets and more! (In case you were wondering, our 2020 nominee announcement is just around the corner. Keep an eye out for an announcement in February!)

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.

Super Sensory Bins

Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2020 by Tess

Here at the library, we love sensory bins! They’re a great way to teach kids about math, literacy and science, without them even knowing they’re learning! This evening, January 23rd, we’ll be hosting an adult workshop for how to build awesome sensory bins, but here are some additional fun ideas for you to try at home with your preschoolers! 

Junk Drawer Sort photoJunk Drawer Sort

I don’t know about you, but my family has always had one drawer in the kitchen full of random stuff. Before the annual spring sort where you throw out all the old coupons and broken rubber bands, let your kids practice their math skills by sorting the objects into categories. You’ll also have some great vocabulary conversations.

  1. Take everything out of the junk drawer, and put it in a bucket.
  2. Remove anything that’s a choking hazard if you have littles under 3.
  3. Put out a variety of bowls or containers.
  4. Let them sort based on any variety of concepts. (e.g. shape, weight, color, letter sounds, type of object)

Continue reading “Super Sensory Bins”

Celebrate MLK Day of Service

Posted on Friday, January 17, 2020 by Megan

January 15 is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, but January 20 is the day when we honor this great civil rights leader and activist! This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service; this national day of service encourages all of us to volunteer in our community to honor his memory.

You can stop by your favorite library branch to help us celebrate January 17-20! We are providing supplies so our community can make bookmarks for people who are homebound or live in assisted care facilities. You can decorate the front any way you like, and on the back there will be a message stating that the bookmarks were made with love by our DBRL patrons. After the bookmarks have all been created, they will be laminated and delivered by our outreach team. Alternatively, you may choose to give them directly to someone who needs a little extra care and joy in their lives.

If you and your kids can’t make it in to see us, you can still perform acts of service wherever you are by:

  • Sharing or donating some of your toys
  • Smiling at 7 people
  • Playing with someone new
  • Drawing a picture for a neighbor
  • Letting someone go ahead of you in line

For more information about how other folks like you are participating around the country, you can visit the MLK Day of Service webpage.

Happy Winnie-the-Pooh Day!

Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020 by Molly

Winnie the Pooh book coverEnglish author and playwright, Alan Alexander Milne, better known as A.A. Milne, published three novels and 18 plays. His novels include a popular detective story called “The Red House Mystery,” and his plays include original works, as well as book adaptations, such as, “Toad of Toad Hall,” a dramatization of the beloved children’s book, “The Wind in the Willows.”

Yet, Milne is remembered not for his novels and plays, but rather, for his imaginary Hundred Acre Wood, a boy named Christopher Robin, and most importantly, for a lovable bear named Pooh. For this reason, on January 18th we celebrate Milne’s birthday as National Winnie-the-Pooh Day.

Born in 1882, A. A. Milne studied mathematics and received a B.A. from Cambridge University in 1903. Following graduation, he began to contribute articles to Puncha British weekly humor magazine. Three years later, the magazine hired Milne as an assistant editor. 

In 1913, Milne married Dorothy “Daphne” de Sélincourt. Their son and only child, Christopher Robin, was born in 1920.

It was in 1924 that things began to change for Milne. In February that year, he published a collection of children’s poems entitled “When We Were Very Young,” illustrated by Punch staff cartoonist E. H. Shepard. A year later, Milne published his second children’s book, “A Gallery of Children,followed by “Winnie-the-Pooh” in 1926. Successful sales of these books turned out to be a double-edged sword for Milne. Suddenly respected as a children’s author, Milne’s earlier novels and plays were soon forgotten, a reality that bothered him for the rest of his life. Continue reading “Happy Winnie-the-Pooh Day!”

Musical Trailblazers

Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2020 by Adam

In a few weeks, the 62nd annual Grammy Awards will recognize some of the biggest names in the music industry and give out awards to people you’ve probably heard of and whose songs you’ve probably heard in any number of places. But what about the artists who never won a Grammy and who never became household names, but, nevertheless, were influential pioneers who helped shape the history of music?

Here are a few children’s books that highlight lesser-known musical trailblazers:

Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George,” written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome

Joseph Boulogne was born in the West Indies in 1739, the son of a wealthy French plantation owner and his slave, Nanon. He began playing violin at an early age and eventually moved to Paris, where he rose through the ranks of the music world as an esteemed player, composer and conductor. Racial prejudice made it impossible for Joseph, the son of a black woman, to fit comfortably into his father’s world of wealth and privilege, but he could turn his feelings of alienation into music that moved and inspired. One of his young admirers was none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and, for a while, the two of them played to packed houses on alternating nights in the same theater!

Born to Swing,” written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Michele Wood

Growing up in Memphis, and then Chicago, in the early 1900s, Lil (short for Lillian) Hardin was exposed to the sounds of the blues and jazz as a little girl and began to play organ and piano any chance she could. In her 20s, at a time when women were only taken seriously as vocalists, she became the first female piano player for The New Orleans Creole Jazz Band. She eventually begin writing and arranging on her own music with her husband, Louis Armstrong, who became a world-famous jazz trumpeter. Lil’s songs have been performed by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Ringo Starr and many others. Continue reading “Musical Trailblazers”