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.

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!)

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”

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”

Organize Your New Year With Bullet Journaling

Posted on Monday, December 30, 2019 by Erin

Happy (Almost) New Year!

Child drawing in journal

This is a popular time of year for people of all ages to make goals concerning habits or lifestyle choices. If you and your child want to make goals for the new year, a great way to keep track and check progress is by creating a bullet journal!

The Bullet Journal Method, created by Ryder Carroll, is a simple way to tailor a journal that fits you! No two bullet journals are alike because each person who uses one is different.

Want to create your own bullet journal? Start with these steps.

  1. Start by choosing a notebook. It can be any notebook that your child picks. Number the pages.*
  2. Make the first two pages an index.
  3. Start creating! If your child is using this as a calendar to keep track of events, go ahead and a create a future log and monthly log. If this is being used as a habit tracker or journal, you can start with a daily log. My suggestion is go look at some examples of simple habit trackers on Pinterest or Instagram. Make sure you type in “simple” otherwise you will be sifting through a lot of very intricate trackers!

*Page numbers are essential for the index. For example:
Page 2-4: Future Log
Page 5-6: January
Page 7: Morning routines
Page 8: Mood Tracker

Here are some tips for success.

  • Keep it simple. From personal experience, I have found that the more complicated I make my journal, the less I want to interact with it.
  • Decorate. Most things in life are more fun when stickers, washi tape and markers are involved. Encouraging your child to decorate their journal will give them a sense of ownership.
  • Invest the Time. Make a routine to sit down with your child every day to log their information. Depending on goals or habits you are tracking, this can take as little as a couple minutes.
  • Be original. Have the kids choose what they want in their journal and allow your kiddo to take ownership of the journal. While you should certainly guide them if needed, make sure that your child gives their approval so they feel that this journal belongs to them.
  • Review. When starting a new month, go back through the previous month and see if there are any items that are not completed. Decide with your child if that item is important to bring over to the next month or if it can be crossed out. Not everything is worth your time.

This is a super quick summary of bullet journaling. If you’re interested, I encourage you to look at other people’s spreads to get ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to create a journal.

Comment below if you have any questions or ideas! There are not a whole lot of ideas specifically tailored for children’s bullet journals, and I would love to know what spreads different parents are using for habit trackers.

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”