Category Archives: Nonfiction

The Young Presidents

It can stretch the imagination to picture powder-wigged George Washington and chisel-faced Abraham Lincoln as preteen boys, but don’t you wonder what kind of boys they were?

This President’s Day, let’s explore books that take us back into the boyhoods of the extraordinary men we honor today.

Abraham Lincoln, George Washington: Young Presidents by Augusta Stevenson from Aladdin.

The Education of George Washington by Austin Washington from Regnery History. (Note: This book is written by President Washington’s great-nephew and is geared toward adult readers.)

Young George Washington America’s First President  by Andrew Woods, illustrated by John Himmelman from Scholastic.

George Washington, Young Leader (Easy Biographies) by Laurence Santrey from Troll Communications.

Abe Lincoln: The Young Years (Easy Biographies) by Keith Brandt, illustrated by John Lawn from Troll Communications.

Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by James Daugherty from Scholastic.

Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D’Aulaire, illustrated by Edgar Parin D’Aulaire from Yearling Books.

Do you have any good books to add to our list? How are you and your students and children celebrating President’s Day?

Indie Spotlight: Parnassus Books, Nashville TN

Ann Patchett, successful award-winning author and passionate promoter of independent bookstores all over the country,

Karen Hayes & Ann Patchett

has joined the growing number of authors who feel strongly about the value of independent bookstores so they open their own, in her case Parnassus Books in Nashville Tennessee (www.parnassusbooks.net), co-founded with publishing veteran Karen Hayes. We’re talking today with Mary Laura Philpott who writes the store’s lively blog “Musings” and has two middle-grade junior booksellers of her own.

Mixed-Up Files: What do you want people to experience at Parnassus? Describe an ideal day in the shop.
Mary Laura
: If you look around the store, you can see the experience that Ann Patchett and Karen Hayes, our owners, have in mind. It’s open and light and clean, but with plenty of interesting nooks and corners, and lots of comfy seating. There’s usually a shop dog or two lounging around, hoping for a reader to snuggle with. And depending on the day, we might set up chairs in front of our stage for a visiting author to come read and sign books. It’s meant to be more than just a store — a real hub for lovers of the written word of all ages.

MUF:With your owners’ experience in the publishing business, your store collection must be well curated. Do you and your community have some special areas of interest?
Mary Laura:
You’re right — curation is key, especially for a small store where there’s no room for filler. Our owners and buyers have gotten to know what local audience is interested in. Of course, new fiction and nonfiction are always popular. Nashville’s full of voracious readers, so customers tend to be aware of the latest literary buzz and come in looking for new titles they’ve read about. Not surprisingly, we have a well-stocked music section. And with the expansion of our shop in 2016, we were able to add not only more elbow room for browsing in all our sections, but also more space for children’s and YA titles.

MUFHow do you help kids select books? We’d like to know what titles, old or new, fiction or nonfiction, you find yourself recommending most often these days to readers aged 8-12.
Mary Laura:
Great question! Our manager of books for young readers is Stephanie Appell, who has a masters degree in library science with a focus on youth services and is a former teen librarian. She also just might be the most enthusiastic champion of children’s literature and YA literature I’ve ever met. She regularly meets with publishers to discuss what they’ve got coming up, but she also does a lot of her own research, via trade publications and blogs, to stay on top of the best and brightest new titles. All of our children’s booksellers are great at reading ahead so they can recommend the best new reads the minute the books come out.
You can follow along with our staff picks on Musing, our online magazine. Every month, there are some picks especially for young readers, chosen by our children’s booksellers as well as our junior booksellers — a few kids ranging from elementary to high school who help us out on weekends and holidays. (Two of them are my own kids, and they love choosing their staff picks!) https://parnassusmusing.net/category/staff-picks/

[Looking over these staff picks, we found lots of new or somehow overlooked titles to add to our teetering pile of books-to-read.  Fiction:  Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin, The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly, Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LeFleur,  The Girl Who Could Fly and The Boy Who Knew Everything by Victoria Foster, and Awkward  by Svetlana Chmkova.   Nonfiction: The Courage to Soar by Simone Biles, Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska,  and March by John Lewis.]

MUF: Any events or activities coming up that would be of special interest to middle-graders?
Mary Laura: Yes! We are so excited about the launch of Andrew Maraniss’s Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line. This is a middle grade adaptation of Andrew’s New York Times bestselling book of the same title, and it’s an incredible true story of courage and perseverance. Andrew is going to discuss the book with fellow New York Times bestselling author Ruta Sepetys at Parnassus on February 9th. You can check our online calendar for more upcoming events at http://www.parnassusbooks.net/event.

MUF: Many independent bookstores have store pets, but Parnassus has several wonderfully named dogs (Sparkman Vandevender or Sparky, Opie Breman, Belle Rock, Bear Gardner, Mary Todd Lincoln Coffman, and Eleanor Roosevelt Philpott), who not only greet customers but actually perform same-day delivery service?
Mary Laura
: Ha! Yes, that was their April Fool’s Day joke on us all last year. (https://parnassusmusing.net/2016/04/01/announcing-our-new-service-parnassus-on-paws/) Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the dogs could drive and they just showed up at people’s doorsteps? They actually serve a variety of functions in the store, from offering wet-nosed greetings to acting as furry footstools to snuggling anyone who looks like they need a little love. They also have their own blog, “Shop Dog Diaries,” where they share their bookstore adventures. (https://parnassusmusing.net/category/shop-dog-diaries/)

MUF:For those of us who can’t visit and enjoy Parnassus soon, tell us what we can experience online.
Mary Laura:
If you can’t be here in person, make sure you’re subscribed to Musing — it’s almost as good as visiting the store. You’ll get lots of exclusive, free bookish content delivered right to your inbox: author interviews, reading lists, staff reviews of new books, Ann’s blog, the shop dogs’ blog, and more. (www.ParnassusMusing.com) You can also shop directly from our store website, www.ParnassusBooks.net, and we’ll ship your books to you. One other thing far-away readers need to know about is our subscription programs. (http://www.parnassusbooks.net/first-edition-clubs) There are two, actually: the First Editions Club (a signed, hardcover, new adult book every month) and ParnassusNext (a new, signed YA book every month). And if you’re on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, you can interact with us every day!

MUF: If a family visits your shop from out of town, would there be family-friendly places in the neighborhood where they could get a snack or meal? And if they can stay a little longer, are there some unique sites or activities nearby they shouldn’t miss?
Mary Laura
: Oh, Nashville is such a family-friendly town. Depending on the weather, there are lots of places right in the middle of the city to hike and enjoy the outdoors (check out Radnor Lake and Warner Parks). The Parthenon is pretty cool, as are the Nashville Zoo and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. If you’re into science, the Adventure Science Center is worth checking out. There are some family-friendly activities at Opryland as well. As for food, well, we could go on forever . . . Andy Brennan, our store manager, strongly believes Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint is the best in town. There are several spots right here in our shopping center, too, including Fox’s Donut Den right around the corner. Donuts and books, does it get better than that?

MUF:  Amen!  Thanks for telling us about Parnassus Books.  Readers, have you visited this delightful shop?  If not, wouldn’t you love to go there?

Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel, You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda 2011, Usborne UK 2012)

Ripe Reads for National Cheese Lover’s Day

Really, today is National Cheese Lover’s Day, and to celebrate we’ve got a spread of “cheesy” books from fiction to food to just plain fun for you to savor.

brick-of-cheese

 

9780545939577Cheese by Sarah Weeks

Oggie Cooder loves cheese so much that he carries a slice of cheese with him wherever he goes. It’s not just for a snack — Oggie is an excellent charver. (Charving is when you chew a piece of cheese to carve it in the shape of something.) The kids at school think Oggie’s charving is a little strange. But when a big TV show comes looking for people with unusual talents, Oggie is suddenly Mr. Popular. Can Oggie charve a path to fame and score an invite to the party of the year without melting under the pressure? No matter how you slice it, you’re going to laugh when you read about one small kid becoming a really big cheese, in this hilarious combination of Oggie Cooder and Oggie Cooder, Party Animal.

 

9781101931219The Birthday Suit (Commander in Cheese #4) by Lindsey Leavitt, illus. by Ag Ford

If you are a mouse, then you might know about Ava and Dean Squeakerton. They are kind of famous, for mice. That’s because Ava and Dean and the rest of their family live in the White House. When a human has a birthday, mice get to eat a BIG cake! When a mouse has a birthday, mice get to throw a BIG party! Ava and Dean can’t wait to surprise Gregory on his birthday. They have the perfect gift: a special Abraham Lincoln suit made just for him! But making sure a mouse arrives at his surprise party on time is not easy . . . especially when a human kid picks up that mouse and wants to keep him as a pet! This chapter book series is sure to thrill readers who love tiny details and big fun. Bonus cool facts about presidents, the White House, and U.S. history are featured in the back of the book.


9781442433083Who Cut the Cheese? (Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder) by Jo Nesbo, illus. by Mike Lowery, trans. By Tara F. Chace

“Large helpings of whimsy, humorous black-and-white illustrations, and the occasional fart joke provide plenty of silliness” (Booklist) in the third Doctor Proctor adventure from New York Times bestselling author Jo Nesbø. Nilly, Lisa, and Doctor Proctor are too busy inventing things to watch TV, and everyone says they’re missing out on the hot singing competition. But then Nilly and Lisa notice that their friends and family are acting really weird. And the only people acting weird … are the ones watching TV. What’s going on is WAY bigger than a singing competition. It could mean the end of the world. Or a silent but deadly could save everything! Let ’er rip.

 

9780545872522The Cheese Experiment (Geronimo Stilton #63) by Geronimo Stilton

New Mouse City was in a panic. A strange epidemic had broken out—mice everywhere were covered in weird blue spots! Mouse Island’s most famouse doctor immediately set to work with his team to try to find the cure… but someone was trying to stop him. Could I figure out who before I ended up blue myself?

 

 

9781481423274Heidi Heckelbeck Says “Cheese!” by Wanda Coven, illus. by Priscilla Burris

Heidi Heckelbeck is a little witch with a big problem: she’s missing her front tooth! Can she fill the gap with some magic in time for class picture day? Heidi Heckelbeck has a loose front tooth, and class picture day is just around the corner. Despite being as careful as can be, Heidi loses the tooth—and ends up with a big hole in her smile! Can she use her Book of Spells to create a new tooth? Or will she have to learn to love her new look?

 

9781561458103The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, illus. by Barry Moser

Skilley, an alley cat with an embarrassing secret, longs to escape his street-cat life. Tired of dodging fishwives’ brooms and carriage wheels, he hopes to trade London’s damp alleyways for the warmth of ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn. He strikes a bargain with Pip, an erudite mouse: Skilley will protect the mice who live at the inn, and in turn, the mice will provide Skilley with the thing he desires most. But when Skilley and Pip are drawn into a crisis of monumental proportions involving a tyrannical cook, an unethical barmaid, and a malevolent tomcat, their new friendship is pushed to its limits. The escalating crisis threatens the peace not only of the Cheshire Cheese Inn but also the British Monarchy! Unbeknownst to Skilley and Pip, however, they have a secret ally: a famous author who scribbles away many an afternoon in ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn…

 

9780545035255Say Cheese and Die! (Classic Goosebumps #8) by R.L. Stine

Discover the bone-chilling adventures that made Goosebumps one of the bestselling children’s book series of all time. Now with all-new bonus materials! Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he found. The photos keep turning out . . . different. When Greg takes a picture of his father’s brand-new car, it’s wrecked in the photo. And then his dad crashes the car. It’s like the camera can tell the future—or worse. Maybe it makes the future!

 

9781512434217Chips and Cheese and Nana’s Knees: What is Alliteration by Brian P. Cleary, illus. by Martin Goneau

What is alliteration? You’ll find the answer inside this bookit’s packed with wonderful and wacky words that start with similar sounds. Brian P. Cleary’s remarkable rhymes and Martin Goneau’s ingenious illustrations creatively present the concept of alliteration for young readers. For easy identification, key examples of alliteration appear in color, and comical cats reinforce each idea.

 

9780399240164Who Moved My Cheese? For Kids by Spencer Johnson and Christian Johnson, illus. by Steve Pileggi

Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? is a bestselling book that has helped millions of people around the world adapt and succeed in changing times. Now Dr. Johnson has adapted his story for the picture book audience so that, starting from the earliest age, children can view change as a positive thing that can lead to new opportunity. Young readers will enjoy following the story of the four little characters, Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, who make their way through a maze looking for the “Magical Cheese” that makes them happy. And once they find the Cheese, it seems like it will last forever-until one morning when everything changes. Who moved their Cheese? Will it come back? Or will they have to look for different Cheese, venturing onto strange paths, around corners they’ve never explored? As children follow these friends through the maze of change, they can try to figure out which character they’re most like-or which they most admire-and what their own Magical Cheese might be.

 

9780766033153Chocolate Ants, Maggot Cheese, and More: The Yucky Food Book by Dr. Alvin Silverstein, Dr. Virginia Silverstein, and Laura Silverstein Nunn, illus. by Gerald Kelley

Would you eat chocolate ants or roasted grasshoppers? What about maggot cheese or octopus? Authors Alvin and Virginia Silverstein and Laura Silverstein Nunn introduce readers to foods from all over the world that students may think are yucky—and foods that we may eat that other people think are yucky, too!

If you know any other “gouda” books like these, let us know in the comments section. We’ll “edam” right up!

Dorian Cirrone is the co-regional advisor for the Florida Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has written several books for children and teens. Her most recent middle-grade novel, The First Last Day (Simon and Schuster/Aladdin), is available wherever books are sold. You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter as @DorianCirrone. She gives writing tips and does occasional giveaways on her blog at: http://doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog/