Great Books and more

Aw, Bologna

Someday when I'm rich, really disgustingly wealthy, I'm going to the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy, and I will meet aaaaalll the wonderful illustrators and buy them a glass of vino. Seriously, I am obsessed with picture book illustration, and the book fair in Bologna attracts artists from every corner of the globe.*

This year, though, we're all in luck! Because you don't have to go any farther than your local Oakland Public Library branch to see almost all the 2015 winners of the Bologna Ragazza Awards. 2015 is the 50 year anniversary of the award, which means--fun fact--that it was created during the birth year of Alex Winter, aka Bill S. Preston of seminal American film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. CONNECTIONS.

This year's winners are:


Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd


Avant Après, by Anne-Margot Ramstein, illustrated by Matthias Aregui (we have the English translation)

NEW HORIZONS (A special recognition reserved to the publishing industry in the Arab countries, Latin America, Asia and Africa):
Abecedario, by Ruth Kaufman and Raquel Franco, illustrated by Diego Bianki

That last one is my personal favorite. I bought it for OPL at FIL Guadalajara, and loved it so much I got a copy for myself, too. These pictures!

The last Bologna Ragazza Award is the Opera Prima, which recognizes exceptional first books. We don't own this one, and I haven't seen it for sale in the US yet. 

Lá Fora, by Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Inês Teixeira do Rosário, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho

Here's hoping some intrepid US publisher snaps it up, along with all the awards' Special Mentions. (Enchanted Lion, are you watching?)

*Globes don't have corners, FYI

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: Do you have books that explain about the birds & the bees?

Shocked dadQ: My eight-year-old son is asking me about how babies are made. I gave him a short-version answer, and now he has a lot more questions. I'm realizing that my older daughter (now 12) probably had a lot of questions she didn't ask out loud when I gave her the simple answers a few years ago. What books do you have for both of them?

It's Perfectly Normal - a book cover.

A: We have plenty of books on this topic for different ages. You will find it much easier to answer your children's questions with the help of some well-chosen books! Whether you read a book aloud to a younger child, give one to an older child to read herself, or simply read one yourself to get ideas of the best ways to respond to their questions, having some published information will help you teach your children about human development and reproduction.

Cover of a COMPLETELY inappropriate book for this blog post.You may not agree with every statement in all of these books – each family has their own set of values and perspectives. However, these books represent ideas that exist in the world, so responding to them either with agreement or disagreement will clarify for your children what you believe and what your expectations are for them, while at the same time sharing essential information they need to know.

Here are some books for kids to read on their own, or for you to read aloud to them:

    Sorry, this book (Asking about sex & growing up) is no longer available at the Oakland Library.              

As you can see, they range from those books that simply explain how babies are made to those that explain what changes a body goes through that enable people to have babies! Those questions come up more as a child grows.

Here are some books written for adults that give tips for talking about reproduction and sexuality, and about setting boundaries as they grow up:

Children of every age have questions, and it's never to early to present an age-appropriate answer to any question they have. (See the blog post from last month for books about how babies are made that are best for preschool-age kids.) If your kids see you as a neutral and reliable source of information, you will have the basis for continuing communication as they become teenagers.

We'd love to answer your question next! We assure confidentiality. Oakland Public Library Children's Librarians answer your questions on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month.   

Button to push to submit a question!

7 Reasons The 2015 ALA Youth Media Awards Are SO COOL

Did you see the ALA Youth Media Awards this year? They are SO COOL. Groundbreaking choices were made in every category of these annual awards for children's books. Here's why:

1) Diversity rules!

This year's Medal and Honor recipients are African-American, Latino, Asian, multiracial, deaf, queer, and differently abled. The Newbery and Caldecott Awards have been criticized in the past for being overwhelmingly white; perhaps the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement is causing a cultural shift in children's literature.


Amy Koester, the Show Me Librarian, has a great post on how this year's awards can help book selectors examine their own privilege.

2) A graphic novel won a NEWBERY HONOR for the first time.

A big surprise, because the Newbery is for best writing in a book for young readers; traditionally, illustrations are not to be considered. Since graphic novels are written in both words and pictures, it would seem this year's Newbery committee broke from tradition and considered visual text in honoring CeCe Bell's wonderful El Deafo.

3) A graphic novel won a Caldecott Honor, also for the first time.

This one seems more natural, since the Caldecott is for illustration. But no graphic novel has ever won or been honored before. Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer is also the first book for older kids to nab a Caldecott Honor, which has caused some controversy.

4) A picture book won the Stonewall Award for the first time ever.

We love Gayle Pitman and Kristyna Litten's This Day in June here at OPL-- happy rhyming text and colorful pictures depict a gay pride parade, complete with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It's the first time in the award's 44 year history that a picture book has taken the prize, confirming that there are wonderful books for the very youngest about queer life.

5) Dan Santat cried like a baby when he found out he won the Caldecott.

Which is pretty adorable. You can see lots of winners and honorees get the call here.

6) I got to watch them live.

Braggy brag brag. The ALA Youth Media Awards are basically the Oscars for children's literature. But ours start at 8am, not 8pm, and you have to get there by 7 if you want a seat. There's no formalwear, but I did see at least three people including myself wearing these sweet socks.

7) ...after a 6:30am talk by Cornel West.

ALA knocked it out of the park with this year's keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration. Seeing him speak was thrilling. But here I go bragging again.

Check out all the ALA Youth Media Award winners and honorees on Pinterest!

African American Literature Read In Hits Oakland Next Week!

Book Cover of My PeopleNext week, the Oakland Public Education Fund is sponsoring an African American Literature Read In in the schools and is looking for volunteers. If you can volunteer to read in a school next week, it is not too late to sign up.

Their site includes a great recommended reading list, which we contributed to, and includes many of our favorites. Check them out, anytime. 

Book Cover Heart & SoulIn support of the Read In, and in celebration of Black History month, all Oakland Public Library storytimes next week (February 2-7) will highlight African American authors, illustrators, and characters.  

We strive for diversity in our collections and storytimes every day of the year and are excited to support next week's activities. We look forward to seeing you. 

You can browse and place holds for some of our favorites books for next week right here


Tuesday is Multicultural Children's Book Day!

The push for diversity is one of my favorite things happening in children's books these days, and grassroots organizations like We Need Diverse Books are jumping to support the cause. Add to that list of organizations Multicultural Children's Book Day, which had its first day in celebration of diverse children's books in 2014.


This year, Multicultural Children's Book Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 27. Have a celebration yourself by visiting their blog for Author and Illustrator Spotlights, book suggestions, and profiles of their sponsors.

While you're at it, stop by Oakland Public Library's Pinterest board for book suggestions! We have recommendations on books about multiracial children, books about differently-abled children, and many more.

An Extremely Boring Book You Should Probably Never Read

These days I always seem to have a friend on the Caldecott committee, which gives the annual award for best illustration in a children's book, which means every time I go to a bookstore I'm texting pictures of book covers to that friend with a message: "you GOTTA see this one!!" 

It's unusual for a book with NO pictures to send me scrambling for my phone. But... have you SEEN this book?

Okay- wrong question. Have you READ this book? It's pretty much the funniest crowd-pleaser of a picture book I've read in years.

Okay okay- still the wrong question. Have you had this book read to you by its author, B.J. Novak*?

Once you've seen the creator in action, you'll need to try it for yourself. The next time you're at the library, ask for The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak. We might give it to you if we're not too busy giggling over it ourselves.

*former writer for The Office, and PS my future husband

6 kids' books from 2014 that hit uncomfortably close to home

1. My New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems

Gerald (the elephant) sees Piggie playing with her new bat friend, and he is JEALOUS. Gerald, I know the sting you feel all too well: maybe Piggie will have so much fun with Bat, she won't need you anymore. I'm sure we'll outgrow these insecurities someday.

Read it to: the BFF who keeps breaking brunch plans.

2. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

You ever just KNOW you're on the brink of discovering something that will change your life? Sam and Dave keep digging aaaalmost to the giant diamonds, then deciding to change course, leaving readers shouting "NO! NO! It's RIGHT THERE!" 

Read it to: adults in your life whose purpose just plain eludes them.

3. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, by Bob Shea and Lane Smith

These master crooks can't STAND to hear someone else get credit for their low-down deeds, and they finally implicate themselves. Isn't that one of the theories on the Serial subreddit?

Read it to: the co-worker you KNOW is stealing your snacks from the break room fridge.

4. Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan

If telling your younger sibling terrible things--such as that leaving one red sock on a clothesline will attract a giant, bloodthirsty hell-rabbit with eyes of fire that will hunt him down no matter where he hides--is wrong, then I don't want to be right. Incidentally, my big sister once told me that pizza is made from dead bodies in graveyards, and it BARELY interrupted my pizza eating habits.

Read it to: any siblings who still won't talk to you.

5. Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers

Burn any bridges this year? This book gets you.

Read it to: anyone with regrets.

6. Toot, by Leslie Patricelli

I'm definitely too old to find farting so funny. And yet here we are.

Read it to: yourself, over and over.

Travel Books for Kids

If you’re looking for a little adventure this season, check out the library’s selection of travel books for kids! They describe lands both near and far, highlighting aspects of each destination that young readers are especially interested in exploring. Take an armchair tour through California, Mexico, and beyond with some of these exciting informational books:

For younger readers

All Aboard! book coverCountry Explorers Ghana book coverIn New York book coverOff We Go to Mexico book coverOur California book coverThis Plane book coverWe're Riding on a Caravan book cover

All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet / by Chris Demarest; illus. by Bill Mayer

Country Explorers series / Lerner Publications

In New York / by Marc Brown

Off We Go to Mexico / by Laurie Krebs; illus. by Christopher Corr

Our California / by Pam Muñoz Ryan; illus. by Rafael López

This Plane / by Paul Collicutt

We're Riding on a Caravan: An Adventure on the Silk Road / by Laurie Krebs; illus. by Helen Cann

For older readers

Enchantment of the World Pakistan book coverGo, Go America book coverHow Do you Burp in Space? book coverMy Yosemite book coverNational Geographic Kids World Atlas book coverNational Parks book coverNot-for-Parents Wonders of the World book coverTop to Bottom Down Under book cover

Enchantment of the World series / Children's Press

Go, Go America / by Dan Yaccarino

How Do You Burp in Space?: And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know / by Susan Goodman; illus. by Michael Slack

My Yosemite: A Guide for Young Adventurers / by Mike Graf; illus. by Annette Filice

National Geographic Kids World Atlas / National Geographic

National Parks: A Kid's Guide to America's Parks, Monuments and Landmarks / by Erin McHugh; art by Neal Aspinall, Doug Leen, and Brian Maebius

Not-for-Parents guidebook series / Lonely Planet

Top to Bottom Down Under / by Ted & Betsy Lewin

Oakland Mayor's Toy Drive Needs New Books!

The library is partnering with the Oakland Mayor's Toy Drive to ensure that a new book is included in every gift bag.   You can help by shopping at your participating local independent bookstore.   The following stores will be selling books for the Oakland Mayor's Toy Drive. Stop by, buy a book or more and leave it with the store for donation to the Toy Drive!

Laurel Book Store 1423 Broadway

Pegasus Books Oakland, 5560 College Ave

Marcus Bookstore, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Great Good Place for Books, 6120 LaSalle Ave

EM Wolfman Books, 410 13th st

Diesel Bookstore, 5433 College Ave

Walden Pond Books 3319 Grand Ave

While any new children's books are welcome, we are in particular need of diverse books for young children.  Some of our favorites are:


Global Baby Boys, by Maya Ajmera

Global Baby Girls, by Maya Ajmera 

I Am So Brave, by Stephen Krensky

I Know a Lot, by Stephen Krensky

Sparkling Princess ABC, by Lisa Perrett

Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep! A counting book, by Brian Biggs



Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

Rain! By Linda Ashman

This Day in June, by Gayle Pitman

Take Me Out to the Yakyu, by Aaron Meshon

Puffy: people whose hair defies gravity, by Aya de Leon

Maria Had a Little Llama, by Angela Dominguez

If I Had a Raptor, by George O’Connor

Please, Baby, Please, by Spike Lee (available in paperback)

Viva Frida, by Yuyi Morales



My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems 

Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up (easy reader edition- 978-1442495678), by Cynthia Rylant

Fire Truck to the Rescue! By Sonia Sander 

Ling and Ting Share a Birthday, by Grace Lin



Lowriders in Space, by Cathy Camper

Gumazing Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny, by Rhode Montiijo

Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow, by Jacqueline Jules

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door, by Hilary McKay

Ellray Jakes is Magic, by Sally Warner

Luz Makes a Splash, by Claudia Davila

Dog Days, by Karen English

Hands-On Science Books

During this season of colder weather and shorter days, you can find plenty of inspiration for activities to do with kids in the science section of the library. These are just a handful of our favorite books that help curious kids explore the world around them through scientific experimentation. Check them out!:

Crazy Concoctions book coverExploratopia book coverExploratorium Science Snackbook Series book coverHead to Toe Science book coverKitchen Science Experiments book coverNatural Disasters book coverScience Experiments you can Eat book coverScore! Sports Science Projects book coverSmash it! Crash it! Launch it! book coverWhose Fingerprints are These? book cover

Crazy Concoctions: A Mad Scientist's Guide to Messy Mixtures / Jordan Brown; illus. by Anthony Owsley

Exploratopia / Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and staff of the Exploratorium; illus. by Jason Gorski

Exploratorium Science Snackbook SeriesPaul Doherty, Don Rathjen, and the Exploratorium Teacher Institute

Head to Toe Science: Over 40 Eye-popping, Spine-tingling, Heart-pounding Activities that Teach Kids about the Human Body / Jim Wiese

Kitchen Science Experiments: How does your Mold Garden Grow? / Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; illus. by Edward Miller

Natural Disasters: Investigate Earth's most Destructive Forces: With 25 Projects / Kathleen Reilly; illus. by Tom Casteel

Science Experiments you can Eat / Vicki Cobb; illus. by David Cain

Score!: Sports Science Projects series / by various authors

Smash it! Crash it! Launch it!: 50 Mind-blowing, Eye-popping Science Experiments / Rain Newcomb & Bobby Mercer

Whose Fingerprints Are These?: Crime-solving Science Projects / Robert Gardner