In the Stacks: New picture books

New picture books at the public libraries include two new alphabet books, a new Lemony Snicket (“The Dark,” with illustrations by Jon Klassen), and many others – look for them on the New shelves in the children’s areas at each branch.


“The King Who Wouldn’t Sleep,” by Debby Singleton and Holly Swain.

Once upon a time, there was a King, a Queen, and a beautiful Princess. The King was so busy trying to find the perfect prince for his daughter to marry that he didn’t sleep a wink. The princes, who wanted a chance to meet the princess, all tried various methods to put him to sleep: teddy bears, soft pillows, soothing bedtime stories, but nothing ever worked. One day, though, a farmer who worked in a field nearby brought a basket with ten fluffy chicks for the King - but the King immediately saw there was only one chick and sent the farmer away. The farmer persisted, bringing ten rabbits (that’s only two! said the King), ten cockerels (that’s just three! said the king), and ten puppies (can’t you count? asked the King), before ushering 100 sheep into the reception hall – and the King decides to count them himself… Can you guess who gets to meet the princess?

“Blue Chicken,” by Deborah Freedman.

This lively book plays with the boundaries of two and three dimensional existence as a watercolor painting of a barn with a cow, a cat, chickens in a coop, and ducklings sleeping in the garden, comes to life. We get a close-up view as one chicken awakens and decides it’s a nice day to finish things up by helping to paint the barn. But she’s a little overzealous and tips the blue paint bottle onto herself and the painting! Everything - from the little yellow ducklings to the black-and-white cow, orange cat, and the other white chickens - turns blue, and nobody’s happy with the helpful chicken. Help comes in the form of a mischievous duckling and a tippy jar of water, and soon everything is back to normal, even the sky. I love Freedman’s command of medium and motion, and especially her expressive, trouble-starting, helpful chicken.

“Emergency!” by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer.

With the whole alphabet living together in one house, things get a little rambunctious at times, so it’s no surprise that E gets hurt dashing down the stairs to breakfast one morning. Thanks to the numbers who live across the street, 911 gets called, the EMTs arrive with an IV and take E to the ER, where she gets some TLC, an X-ray, and a cast. But E’s going to be out of commission for a while and O gets asked to do double-duty. So everyone drinks Popsi after danco lossons, and E gets lots of “Got Woll Soon” messages, but for some reason, E just isn’t healing and no one knows why. Readers will be tickled by the answer the other letters come up with. Cleverly written and chock-full of puns and alphabet games, this is one to read through, then go back and peruse for the hidden jokes.

“Magic Trash,” by J.H. Shapiro, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

When Tyree Guyton was a kid growing up in Detroit, his family was poor. Good thing Tyree liked tinkering with things he found! Even though he got teased by other kids, Tyree loved to create, and he decided that one day he’d be an artist and make things for everyone to enjoy. And when he grew up, he made it happen. Worried about all the abandoned houses in his neighborhood, Tyree painted abandoned houses with colorful polka dots and outfitted them with magenta guard dogs made of things he’d found to make them look cared for. It took a long time for all his neighbors to think of what Tyree made out of trash as art, but now his neighborhood, Heidelberg Street, is a place where people from around the world come to see, and sometimes help create, colorful, found art. Paint, photo-collage, and newsprint combine to bring Tyree’s art to life on the page.

“An Annoying ABC,” by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley.

What happens when Adelaide (dressed like Hobbes the tiger) annoys Bailey? Bailey blames Clyde, of course! Like dominos, one by one the entire class of kids goes from having a quiet morning to high-energy, alphabetically-ordered, near-chaos. Emberley’s pictures are worth a thousand words and more: readers can follow Adelaide’s adventures as she goes after the escaping class pet, and watch tensions rise as one kid after another gets jostled, sprayed, or painted – and then passes the bad moment on. Until Zelda zaps Adelaide (and the rest of the class) with a spray hose, and Adelaide (who’s caught the mouse by now), apologizes, prompting a reverse round of apologies and towels all around. This utterly delightful story is my new favorite alphabet book!

The downtown library’s elevators are back! (Patrons are still welcome to use the stairs – just ring the doorbell at the top and library staff will let you in.)

This month’s TEDx talk is tonight, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. – the topic is education.

The bookmark contest is off to a roaring start - pick up applications at any public library (or see the information here for printable applications: ). Contest closes Oct. 15.

For more information visit


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Margaret Brady Fund scholarship applications now accepted

Area students pursuing artistic excellence may apply for scholarships as part of the Margaret Frans Brady Fund.

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