‘Tis the season of notable book lists, a highly anticipated time of year for Children’s Librarians. We look forward to seeing which of our book purchases made the lists (and which we missed), which books made list after list and which didn’t make any of them. The Greenburgh Public Library’s "2018 GPL Children's Room Best So Far..... ” list is curated and compiled by our collection development expert and bibliophile Miss Gail! Miss Gail will be retiring in January 2019 after a 20+ year career as a Children’s Librarian so please stop by and wish her well. In the meantime, she agreed to let me pick her brain one last time.
What makes a best book?
Usually, a best book for me is one that is emotionally satisfying, entertaining and enriching. A best book can be a picture book, a novel, nonfiction, a biography, or even a graphic novel. I had always wanted to be a writer, but I could never fill that blank page. I have great respect for those who can create so much with words and images.
How have children’s books changed during your tenure?
A love of fantasy was created by Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling. Picture books not only entertain, but now educate with information and biographies. New levels of reading comprehension increased our Easy Readers and Young Readers. Graphic novels became much more than just comic books. On the other hand, there seems to be more formulaic series with less substance. But I'm an advocate of reading anything and everything.
What Newbery or Caldecott award winners surprised you in the past?
Newberry 2008 Medal Winner Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village was a bit too obscure for me. Not a book I would read multiple times, nor one I remember to recommend to my patrons.
What’s your pick for Newbery & Caldecott awards this coming year?
How about I give you three choices for each category. Caldecott: Unplugged by Steve Anthony; We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan Higgins; or I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoet and I could keep going.
As for Newberry: Blended by Sharon Draper; Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson; The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown; or Bob by Wendy Mass (oops - I'm already at four).
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I can't pick a favorite children's book. It would be like picking a favorite child and sorry, kids, I can't do that. I will tell you one of my favorite books from childhood was Half Magic by Edward Eager. I can't remember exactly why I liked it so much, but I did. However, when I shared it with my children, my daughter said it was the most boring book she had ever read, so each to their own.
What do you hope to see more of or less of in children’s books?
I hope to see less books based on games and movies. I'm a firm believer in the book is always better.
Having provided readers advisory to many children and/or their parents/caregivers, any tips for new Children’s Librarians? Any lasting memories of providing good readers advisory? Any lessons learned?
If you have the time, read that books instead of just recommending them from someone else's list. And remember, often times, kids are telling you what that don't want. It's your chance to help them find what they do want as well as introduce them to what they had no idea they could enjoy.
I've been told that I'm the best book picker outer that one bookaholic child had ever known. I take that as high praise. Reading gives me joy and I'm pleased to share that love.
(Not a book question but) I’ve had to take a break from the hokey pokey but Is there any theme that cannot be worked into that song?
What happened? Do you mean you used to do the hokey pokey, but you've turned yourself around? The Hokey Pokey is very forgiving and can accommodate many themes. My favorites are the snowy pokey (mittens, boots, coat, scarf) and the doggy pokey (paws, ears, fur, tail) but any animal/dinosaur can work.
Thank you, Miss Gail for your tolerance of my questions, your many splendid book lists, and your years of service to the Greenburgh Public Library! Your legacy will not be forgotten and you will be missed by your co-workers, peers, and patrons.
For more excellent reads, check out the following lists of best children’s books of 2018. They can be borrowed from your favorite public library and remember, great reads make great gifts!
Kirkus’ Best Picture Books
The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books, although I prefer this format
NPR's Book Concierge - Best Books of 2018
Parents' 15 Best Children's Books 2018
Publishers Weekly Best Books 2018
School Library Journal’s Best Books 2018
Time Magazine’s 10 Best YA and Children's Books of 2018
Washington Post’s Best Children’s Books of 2018
National Council of English Teachers 2019 Children’s Book Awards
National Science Teachers Association’s Best STEM Books 2019
New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2018