Author Archives: edimopoulos

The Picky Reader: Putting Great Books in the Hands of Our Kids

Reading is… Retro? I’ve just come across three new picture books that are love notes to reading and the physical form of the book. The art and tone of each are different, but there is a strong nostalgic current running through them, which privileges typewritten words on paper over entertainment on screens, etc. Book lovers everywhere will adore these new titles! Check them out. Mack, Jeff. LOOK! Philomel, 2015. A gorilla seeks to attract the attention of a little boy watching... read more

The Picky Reader: Sophisticated Newcomers

I love that the children’s room at my local library in Winchester, MA, always has a box of picture books labeled “New Arrivals.” I know most libraries spotlight recently published books in some way; sometimes I’ve noticed them propped upright on shelf tops, catching the eye. On my last visit, I grabbed three brand-spanking new picture books published in 2015. I took them home and marveled at how sophisticated they were… each in its own way. Like anything, children’s literature... read more

The Picky Reader: Best Picture Books of 2014

The Caldecott Medal for excellence in picture book illustration will be announced in late January. But I’ll give you my list of favorites early! Get to the library or to your favorite bookstore and check these gems out. Frazee, Marla. THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. Beach Lane Books. A young clown falls off a traveling circus train and befriends a lonely old farmer. The illustrations in this wordless picture book feel whimsical and tender as a hug. Chin, Jason. GRAVITY. Roaring... read more

The Picky Reader: Introducing Children to the Big Bad Wolf

Fairy tales. Should we share them with our children, or shouldn’t we? Supporters may take a page from Bettelheim and say that the tales help children explore and experience their natural fears in a safe context. They may say the tales have endured because they feature universal themes: life and death, poverty and wealth, love and loss. Some say they provide wish fulfillment - Cinderella, anyone? Others note their impact on Western literature and culture: Can’t we better understand Frozen... read more

The Picky Reader: An Amherst Getaway

I finally (finally!) brought my son to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It’s located in Amherst, Mass., and if you haven’t gone, go. It’s a gorgeous, light-filled space that made me say to my husband, “Let’s get married again and have the reception here.” There are four galleries, one permanently displaying the art of Eric Carle. Task your child with finding the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear on the wall. The other galleries have temporary exhibits; right now, the... read more

The Picky Reader: This One’s For The Girls

This month, I’d like to highlight picture books with “girl appeal” that feature active girl characters. You know, books that might feature dolls and poufy dresses and the color pink, but in which the girl characters aren’t defined or confined by their femininity. I have to thank two people - first, fellow Mommybites blogger Jean Stehle for inspiring this month’s post. Jean lamented the shortage of fun yet substantial girl books for her two-year-old daughter and told me to get... read more

The Picky Reader: Impressions From “Love Letters”

Every other year, Simmons College holds a summer institute on children’s books. Many authors gather to speak about their work and relate their lectures to a theme. This year, love was in the air! Here are some superlatives from the Love Letters Institute, from the presenters who spoke about picture books: BEST COLLABORATION: Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Neal Porter Laura and Neal have been writer and editor for something like fifteen years. They have produced award-winning picture books, such... read more

The Picky Reader: Pop-up Books: Gently, Please!

Pop-up books designed for children can be extraordinarily beautiful things. They are also fragile and in constant danger of being yanked and torn by little fingers. Request any from the library, and half the flaps and cutouts are bound to be torn or missing. It’s hard to urge parents and libraries to spend their money on a gift that won’t endure… yet, if they survive toddlerhood, these are unique books to own and cherish. Here are a few of my favorites, some hardier than... read more

The Picky Reader: Unhappily Ever After

This month, I’d like to talk about that rare and controversial thing, the picture book with an unhappy ending. At the beginning of each semester, my graduate students expect two things: that a picture book teaches a lesson and that it ends happily. They want children to learn from books and feel optimistic about the world. This assumption is so deeply held that they look at me like I’m crazy when I ask what might be gained from a picture book with a sad ending, or at least an ending that... read more

The Picky Reader: Picture Book Strong

At the end of April, I attended a conference called Fostering Lifelong Learners: Prescribing Books for Early Childhood Education. It was presented by The Horn Book, a wonderful resource for book reviews and articles on children’s literature. Robert Needlman delivered the conference keynote. He is a pediatrician who is perhaps most famous as co-author of latter editions of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. He is also the founder of Reach Out and Read, a program that distributes books to... read more