Goldmine : Books about Writing, Stories & Imagination

Running a school library by yourself means you sometimes take short cuts. Well actually a lot of the time you take short cuts, but one of my favorite short cuts is a New Title subscription service. In essence, I pay a vendor to send me some of the newest titles on the market and the books are bar coded, cataloged, labelled and ready to be displayed. Yaaaay for subscription services and cataloging departments…no seriously, you’re lifesavers. I love the subscription service because I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by the choices sent to our library. This January and February I hit the goldmine with the following titles :

  1. Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
  2. I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino
  3. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White is a chapter book biography but it is so much more! I want to start with the illustrations throughout this book by saying they’re simply exquisite. Minute detailed illustrations and vivid colors are mixed collage-style with vintage photos of White’s life and writings in a way that submerge the reader in the history of his life.  I found myself re-reading and flipping back to pages that inspired me – both as a reader,  a writer and an artist. Simply put, if you are a fan in any way shape or form of E.B. White – read this biography. If you have a young fan of Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little – share this biography with them.

Dan Yaccarino’s I am a Story is my new favorite. The illustrations are bold yet simple. The text is sparse (one sentence per two-page spread) yet packed full of  unobtrusive history. It would be a great jumping off point for teachers when it comes to storytelling and writing with your students. Starting with cavemen telling stories around the fire, this book showcases the variety of ways stories have been expressed throughout history, from cave walls to tapestries, from bound books to dramatic plays, etc. My favorite part of the book talks about how stories can elicit strong emotional responses from people as the read or listen. I am a Story is the perfect example to illustrate the impact that stories can have on all of us.

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston is visually-stunning and a celebration of the imagination. In this book the illustrations are made from collage-style snipping of classic stories rearranged into whole scenes. I spent half my time reading the actual story and then trying to read all the bits that made up the image to try and figure out which book the words came from. The actual story is presented as loosely scrawled hand-writing – like a quick note to the reader. The characters describe the way their imaginations and stories have carried them everywhere from oceans to mountains, forests and castles, even clouds and outer space. The overall idea that your imagination can take you anywhere is something that I was excited to share with my kiddos at school and at my girls at home. Share this book with your favorite reader!

I hope you enjoy these little nuggets of gold. I am really excited to put these on display for my students and can’t wait to hear their feedback on each of the titles. What did you and your reader think?




Raina Telgemeier – My New Favorite Recommendation

As an elementary school librarian, I am constantly bombarded with the newest characters and series which is a wonderful and exciting perk of my job. One of my newest favorites  is Raina Telgemeier and while she’s not the newest author/illustrator on the block she is one of my favorite recommendations for kids.  Her popular graphic novels have been the magical link to getting even my most stubborn kiddos interested in reading.  Now that’s impressive!


So what is the magic behind Raina Telgemeier’s books? I think it’s the quirky art that immediately pulls the reader in – the kids are constantly leafing through her books and picking out their favorite scenes. She also has writes in a way that is completely relatable. The reader gets what the characters are going through because they’ve either been through it or they’re going through it now –  school drama, braces, embarrassing parents, annoying siblings, etc.

Telgemeier’s newest book, Ghosts, is similar to the other stories with elements of family drama (moving to a new home and illness) and the close sister relationships, but it throws in a bit of the supernatural.  My kids have enjoyed this one as well and the illustrations are magnificent.

Even if graphic novels are not your favorite these stories will still resonate with you. Give them a try and let me know what you think!