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New picture books for young readers await at the library

Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009

"Kapow!" written and illustrated by George O'Connor.

Calling all living room superheroes! American Eagle and Bug Lady are here to vanquish evildoers (especially Rubber Man) and right wrongs. But there's a reason that the kids aren't allowed to roughhouse in the living room - and that reason soon comes crashing down. When Mom hears the noise, the game is up! The kids think they're in big trouble... but when their superhero alter egos take over, it turns out the game is still on. O'Connor captures the fluid switches between reality and the world of kids' imaginations through pictures and through dialogue. Lighthearted fun for kids and parents.

"It's not Fair!" written by Amy Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Written to be read aloud (it would make a great short skit), this multispecies book celebrates lots of different unfairnesses in the world. In bright cartoony pictures an envious three-legged stool, a petulant one-eyed alien, a giraffeless girl, a boxless boy, and a wingless pig all bemoan their fates. Nicely rhymed phrases will have kids quickly chiming in with the chorus in this delightful romp.

"Garmann's Summer," written and illustrated by Stian Hole.

This unusual picture book from Norway is a thoughtful meditation on change, fears and keeping up with the Joneses - or, in this case, the twins next door. For 6-year-old Garmann, summer is almost over, which means soon he'll be going to school for the first time. He's nervous about this, and worries that he can't read or spell "rhubarb" and hasn't even lost any teeth yet. When the three old aunts come for their annual end-of-summer visit, Garmann is surprised to find that each of them is afraid of something, and so are his mother and father. This is a quirky book whose photocollage illustrations don't stint on the reality of wrinkles and chin hair and yet veer effortlessly into fantasy when Garmann imagines Auntie Ruth borrowing his skateboard. Though I initially found these illustrations somewhat off-putting, they have grown on me and now I find them a fascinating and witty contrast to the quiet voice of the text.

"The Composer is Dead," written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis, and with music by Nathaniel Stookey.

Snicket returns with his trademark humor to introduce the parts of an orchestra to kids via a little murder mystery. When the composer is found (decomposing), the Inspector on the case settles down to interrogate the suspects. What he finds is that everyone from the violins and violas to the flutes, clarinets and percussion, has an alibi and no one has a motive... except, perhaps, for the Conductor. But when the Inspector tries to arrest the Conductor for murder, the instruments rise up in protest. Accompanied by a CD on which Snicket reads the story, backed by the gamut of musical instruments, this story functions similarly to Peter and the Wolf as an introduction to orchestras and the music they play.

•••

Gaming Night for kids and teens is back. From 6-9 p.m. Saturday, kids are invited for pizza and games of all sorts at the downtown library.

Bingo Schmingo storytimes with Kathleen Rushing will be held next week to celebrate folk fest. The first will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 16, at the Douglas Library, and the second will be from 11 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 17, at the Mendenhall Valley Library.

Patrons at the Downtown Library will notice that work has started on several improvements to the building. It's going to be a little darker than usual with the windows partially boarded to protect them from the resurfacing of the balcony, and the waterside stairs to the parking garage are temporarily only for emergency use (call to arrange stair access). And you'll hear noise from the roof, which is being resurfaced at the same time. All this is happening on weekdays, so for those who want to come to the library for some quiet time, come in the evenings or on the weekend. The library hopes to return to normal by May.

For more information on the library's programs, visit their Web site at www.juneau.org/library.



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